I believe that suffering builds character, and that a period of great struggle–be it emotional, physical, or mental–is necessary to establishing one’s own identity.
For myself, the struggle has been of a mental and emotional kind, resulting often, in bouts of depression and much questioning. This struggle–this depression–took root about half a year ago, when I had just been finishing up the eighth grade. The struggle had finally become so hard to deal with at this point, causing my faith in God to waver. I felt incredibly angry, incredibly frustrated that He would allow me such a burden, and went so far to as stop calling myself a Christian.
My whole summer and my freshman year felt like a constant anxiety attack. Questions bombarded my mind and answers, especially those of substance, were a rarity. I would find myself in the middle of class just wondering as to why He, if He did exist, would allow so many bad things to happen, and whether or not I should continue to subject myself to what increasingly seemed to be His hypocritical teachings. I especially felt myself being consumed by the idea of this being who preached the importance of love–particularly love for everyone–yet sent certain people to hell… it did not make sense to me; and it still does not make sense to me.
I believe that suffering incites the questioning of oneself in order to better establish one’s identity, and that suffering forces one to step outside of one’s comfort zone in order to put everything in life into perspective–to help realize one’s place–and to begin to grow into a more empathetic, appreciative, and strong individual.
Today, I continue to fight this battle, but with a sense of appreciation towards the “enemy”. I realize that, every aspect of the struggle–the anxiety, the depression, the jadedness, the sense of loneliness–all helped me become more sensitive to the mundane, to the human condition, and to the divine. I have realized the importance of appreciating one’s fellow man, the importance of loving everyone and hating no one, and the importance of having friendship and support during the most difficult of times. Although the struggle is still difficult to deal with, I at least know and can believe that in the end, it will not have been a waste of my energies, and that instead, it has helped me, Jem Locquiao, make me who I am.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.