I believe that suffering can be a blessing. I believe there is beauty in pain and the ability to emerge as a bettered being. This happens by the process of learning something through the suffering. At first there is always the part where I feel pity for myself and wish I could crawl into a hole, but eventually I see there is more to my suffering that just anguish. Once I am in this place where I have learned a valuable lesson, I view what used to be unimportant as now worthy of my attention, time, and praise. It is here where the blessing manifests itself.
In 1999 my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She went through awful surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, and endless clinical trials. With each next step, my family of seven watched her deteriorate. But after a battle of nearly six years, we said our goodbyes and she passed on.
This entire experience made us do one thing: suffer in every aspect of our lives. All the tension made us drift quickly apart as a family unit.
Because the pain of losing my mother was so strong, I felt I would be stuck in a limbo of depression forever. But I knew this was not what my mother wanted for me or for any of my siblings. As I listened to friends tell me “everything happens for a reason,” I was disgusted that people actually insinuated some good coming out of the death of my mother. This notion carried on in my mind for months, until I had a conversation with an elderly man who told me he had no family. What he said that remains with me was, “At least you got a family.” I suddenly began to see the light in my situation. Perhaps there was something to be learned here, and maybe it did happen for a reason. I soon found that this reason was to show me that my family is precious and eternally worth my time and love. I set out to mend the loose ends in my family, and as time went by, relationships were restored. We slowly began to see what actually mattered on this earth.
Four years later over Easter weekend, my family’s home caught on fire. It destroyed a portion of our bedrooms and the vast majority of our house and our things.
Everyone wanted to help by offering their homes, food, and clothing. But in the middle of the disaster, I saw myself as peacefully blessed. I didn’t care that all of our things were gone. I didn’t care that I lost my lifelong collections and possessions. I was instead filled with an overwhelming joy because all that mattered was that my family members were all standing there together, with heartbeats. We were alive together, hugging each other, spending Easter Sunday together. It was a glorious fire in my eyes, as the lesson I learned through losing my mother became the blessing born in the flames.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.