It comes as no surprise that we find life difficult at times. In fact there are times when we hurdle right past difficult into the land of abject despair. That is not surprising as life is the only process where we have the test first and then the lesson. Hopefully the lessons learned might make the next test a little easier to pass.
When we struggle an interesting phenomenon occurs. Often when we most need the help of others pride gets in the way and we hunker down trying to make it on our own. That’s a really bad decision. Dante believed that pride is chief among all sins. We deceive ourselves into believing that respect inures to those who stoically bear life’s burdens. Wrong again. What outsiders see is a person who is hanging onto the rim of life.
In times of personal turmoil we forget how good it makes us feel to help others. Genuine inner strength informs us that when life’s travails pay a visit we should seek help. Think about it, if we don’t allow others to dispense the blessing of a compassionate word or deed we not only inflict personal punishment, but we rob potential caregivers of the prospect of infusing happiness into their lives.
When our spirits head south seeking help is important, but there is a practice we can do to cushion the pain. Recognize that even chance encounters can provide spiritual sustenance. Ask folks to tell you their stories, and then inventory the triumphs and disappointments you glean from those stories. You’ll draw strength and comfort from knowing that your most difficult problems are not unique.
This week I had such an occurrence. I was playing golf in a club event and was paired with a most remarkable man. Still a competent player, upon inquiring I learned that he is 90 years old. On further questioning, he told me that he held an undergraduate degree from one of the most prestigious universities in America. After graduation during the height of World War II, he joined the Marines and was part of the initial assault on the island of Iwo Jima! You may not be aware that there were more souls killed during the first assault on Iwo Jima then there were during D-Day on Normandy beach. Upon leaving the service my golfing companion received a masters degree in engineering. After several years in industry he received a Ph.D. in economics then becoming a university professor! Coming to know this man humbled me as I took away profound lessons in what constitutes a meaningful life.
May we never be too proud to accept the compassionate hand of another or too vain to tap into the wisdom of our brethren.