I try to visit with my daughter most days after work. After all, this is why I live here. To give her a happy life with both of her parents in her daily life. Some days this means she comes to me, and some days I stop by to see her at her Grandmother’s house where she lives with her father, which is what I did today. Usually on days like today I’d have her Grandmother’s driver take me home since it’s only five minutes by car, but he is on vacation and I had some steam to blow off after a particularly trying day, so I decided to walk the 20 minutes home. In terrible shoes. Everyone who knows me is rolling their eyes right now because I’m famous for my poor choice in practical footwear. Naturally I began to develop blisters on the walk home, so I jokingly huffed this popular phrase to myself: The Struggle is Real. And then I got to thinking.
The struggle is not only real, it is necessary. Where would we be without struggle? We struggle to learn in school. We struggle to stay fit and healthy. We struggle to get out of bed in the mornings to get to work on time. We put up with struggles AT work to ensure that we receive a pay check. We struggle to make ends meet financially so we can have a place to live. We struggle to learn to communicate with our partners in relationships so that our relationships remain healthy. We struggle to move on from relationships that are no longer healthy or serving a purpose in our lives. We struggle to raise our children into decent human beings, all with the hope that they will someday learn to bear their own lives’ struggles with grace and humility.
Several weeks ago my ex-husband offered me an apology for the role he’s played in my struggle. It was an apology and acknowledgement I craved several years ago rather than now, but it was nonetheless an apology. I truthfully didn’t know what to say to him because I’ve worked hard to move on without his apology, but I told him I was still working on forgiveness. But today’s blistered feet inspired thinking has me wanting to not only forgive him, but to thank him for the role he’s played in my struggle. I don’t want to know who I’d be if I hadn’t gone on this journey.
I’ve never known an incredible person who hasn’t struggled in life in some way. So, as crazy as it may sound, I am thankful for my struggles. Every single one. Struggles give us perspective, without which we couldn’t truly appreciate the easier times in life.
There’s a concept in Islam that the hardship we face in this life saves us from punishment for our sins in the afterlife. Expiation. But I think it goes even deeper than that. Whatever struggle you’re facing in life, be it emotional, physical, financial, or spiritual, know for sure that it is only playing a part in making you better. So welcome the struggle. Invite it in. Dance around the room with it. Open your eyes to what it has come to teach you. Know that struggle is never placed into your life to break you. It is there to make you into who you are supposed to be. To polish you. To lift you. To shape you. To save you.