Often, as I look at the pain of people around me, it almost moves me to tears. People who have suffered great loss. People whose future is closing in without resembling the one about which they’d dreamed. People who daily face the risk of losing the person they love the most. People who already have. As I see these great pains, I am reminded that life is difficult.
Life is difficult. That statement is self-evident. Yet we work in every way to avoid believing or accepting that life is difficult. Has it ever occurred to you the absurdity of saying things like, “Life stinks” or “Life is a bummer”? If you actually understand that it is hard, then saying “life is hard” is as sensible as saying, “water is sure wet” or “circles are really round.” Why do we comment on the difficulty of life so consistently?
I think it is because we expect that it should be easy. Immersed in a life of pain, we find the difficulty hard to grasp just as we find the quick movement of time difficult to understand. Lewis said we suffer the latter because we were not made to dwell within the limits of time. I like that. And I think that the reason we find the difficulty of life remarkable is due to the fact that we were not made to live in a fallen, messed up world. We were designed for paradise.
But the reality is that we don’t live in Eden. And we would be well-served to accept that reality because in avoiding the truth of life’s difficult nature, we actually penalize ourselves further. The difficulty of life brings responsibilities that cannot be ignored. Ignoring them by engaging in denial makes things all the worse. Thus, we viciously spin in the proverbial circle. M. Scott Peck, a popular psychologist and author began his most well-known work with words that sum this thought up well:
Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. ~M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled
Accepting the difficulty of life should not cause us to stop striving to make it more pleasant. If you live in a cold climate, you don’t resign yourself to being cold. You engage yourself in building, insulating, and heating a dwelling to limit your exposure to the cold. Should we not do that for one another, when it comes to life’s difficulties?
The statement from John Watson makes more and more sense every day.
Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle. ~John Watson