You will always be in conflict and there will always be a need for reconciliation and repair. The people around you are different than you, and your competing desires produce tension, sometimes agonizingly so. It is not hard to see the world around you is in turmoil. You are probably even in conflict within yourself. Repair, or reconciliation, is what brings all things together. Any beauty we see is the orchestrating of disparate parts into a state of resonance. We must learn to enact this type of reconciliation and practice it routinely. If we do not do it daily, things fragment and fall apart.
When bad things happen, it is easy for us to feel as if God has abandoned us or is punishing us, even though it is clear good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. We sometimes start to feel guilty or as if we need to change course when bad things happen since we think if we are “doing things right,” we should be rewarded! Yet the sun rises on the evil and the good and rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous. Basically, it’s a crapshoot. The fact that bad things are happening to you does not necessarily mean you have done something wrong or you are headed in the wrong direction. It could, but sometimes it means you’re headed in the right direction. I often tell people (usually when they are setting a boundary or trying on some new behavior), “If it’s difficult, you know you’re doing it right!” People don’t usually like that. 🙂
It is also true that rest awaits. I believe C.S. Lewis said somewhere that man has the capacity to endure suffering only as long as he has to – that once the suffering has ended, he will have the experience that he could not have possibly endured one minute more. This is the other thing that makes our suffering bearable: we know there is respite when it is finished. This day will end at some point and you will be able to sleep. This week will end in a weekend. This season of life will eventually pass. Some day, the suffering will abate. At the end of it all, there will be rest with a certain finality.
I have long been fascinated by and drawn to stories of people who have suffered greatly and yet live free. That’s why my favorite movie is The Shawshank Redemption. I heard once that Nelson Mandela was able to find a sublime level of peace in his soul while imprisoned. You have probably heard similar stories. I have even wished suffering upon myself at times because in suffering, we learn who we truly are and what really matters in life bubbles to the surface. Weird, right?
Someone gave me this bit of wisdom once: she said, “the pain tells me that I am alive.” She was battling cancer and all the pain and agony that go along with that, and she stopped taking her pain medication almost altogether. She is a brave soul. She said when the meds covered all of the pain, she would wake up and not know if she was alive or dead. Her illness had progressed to a point where she could go any time, and she didn’t want to be in a drug-induced stupor. She wanted to be alive and endure everything that goes along with that.