“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” – James Baldwin
When we suffer pain and disappointment or other challenges, it is easy to feel as if we suffer alone, and that our sufferings are perhaps “unprecedented in the history of the world.” But as James points out, it is usually through the commonality of our sufferings and pains, that we come to realize just how connected and similar we all are.
When you are faced with disappointments and failures, you felt that what you’re experiencing was unheard of. But later you will come to realize that such situation was something billions have experienced before you and will continue to experience well beyond your time. Moreover, it will turn out as a small stepping-stone in your life–an experience from your past–an opportunity for you to learn and to grow. This realization will eventually bestow upon you a greater understanding of your fellow man, allowing you to find compassion and empathy for others.
You and I are not alone. We all go through similar experiences in our lives and suffer similar pains and heartbreaks. Each of us has felt the pangs of rejection, of want, of illness and suffering, of loss and death, of failure, or of hardship in some way, shape, or form. And it is through recognizing this truth that we come to realize that we are all brothers and sisters in life.
While you journey down the paths before you, remember that you are not alone. As you experience life, and all its consequences, learn to find acceptance. Whether you encounter joys and happiness, or suffering and sadness, know that your experiences are your reality in life. They are who you are. Embrace the entirety of your life.
Find someone who is going through a pain or suffering you endured and offer a compassionate ear.
Questions to consider:
What kinds of things do you tend to avoid? Why?
What are some of the hardest things for you to deal with? How might you make them easier to accept as a part of your life?
If we cannot avoid suffering and pain in life, how might we make them important parts of who we are?
For further thought:
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C.S. Lewis