There is a great deal written about, discussed, Facebook status updates provided, and testimonies given about the various disappoints, discomforts, and sufferings we endure during our journey of life.
Some of these are relatively light-hearted sufferings like a missed plane, a canceled meeting, the consistently late cable-guy, or the important phone call that was dropped while navigating a big city traffic jam.
However, many of us would classify some of these sufferings as almost too much to endure, like the untimely death of a loved one, a parent holding the hand of a terminally ill child, the heartbreaking destruction of a once close family, or the addiction that resulted in a tragic ending.
Although we all hope to avoid a great deal of pain and suffering in this world, the reality is that we all will endure our share of suffering. Most of us will find a way to carry-on, some in silence and some with a loud roar. There is no escaping disappoint, discouragement, and suffering. Our natural pathway to addressing suffering is to rally our own strength, perhaps we are fortunate to gain some encouragement from others, and we endure with the hope that we will continue to grow stronger through the experience.
As a point to reinforce the importance of building and strengthening our character, it is helpful to highlight the other side of suffering. The other side of suffering, the other side of enduring the pain, is an opportunity to grow in empathy towards the suffering of others in order to be a genuine and relevant source of comfort to those in need.
When we walk through the valley of suffering, as opposed to growing bitter, we have an opportunity to deeply understand the suffering of others and reach out to help others find comfort in their own troubled time.
There is often no greater connection that can be made with someone suffering through a difficult family experience than one who has also walked through that experience. Those who have endured the financial hardship of a painful bankruptcy are often the most effective in guiding others through the experience of rebuilding their credit and confidence. Who better to support and encourage someone struggling with addiction than someone who has walked down that same road?
Those who have endured a particular hardship are very often the most helpful to relate to the needs of those dealing with a similar struggle.
The other side of suffering can be an opportunity to build and strengthen our character when we:
(1) Make the choice to grow in empathy towards the suffering of others as opposed to growing bitter through our own experience
(2) Act on an opportunity to make a connection with someone who is enduring a similar struggle to our own.
(3) Grow stronger, not just by enduring our own struggle, but also by the truth that being a comfort to others grows our own capacity to live a more abundant life.
As we use the experience of our own suffering to aid others in need, we build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to have a positive impact in this world.