While life can seem really lonely, isolating, and meaningless sometimes, it can be comforting to know that we are all wrestling to come to terms with the same core issues.
As M. Scott Peck so accurately said in his book The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult—once we truly understand and accept it—then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
There is so much to delight in and be grateful for in this life. There are more blessings than we can ever count. More joy than than can ever be experienced. More love than can ever be known.
Life pales in comparison to our dreams AND life surpasses our dreams. The beauty and fulfillment that our hearts can picture can never be fully realized AND we experience glimpses and fragments of those dreams being fulfilled. At its truest and deepest levels, life is a Both/And proposition.
To overcome the anxiety and avoid the pain of life’s unmanageability, we attempt to construct existences that are secure, safe, unsurprising, and pleasant—with just enough scripted excitement to keep us interested. But no matter how hard we try, life will surprise us. Sometimes with joy. Sometimes with heartache.
Our efforts to manufacture and maintain the status quo are futile. Like a child building sandcastles on the beach, in the end, the tide comes, the wind blows, and time reclaims control.
Nothing is static. The most basic elements of time and space are constantly moving and changing. Evolving change is constant. Insanity is trying to maintain the status quo in an ever-changing existence.
Our freedom comes when we learn to accept that life is not a product to manufacture but an existence to fully embody, embrace, and experience.
We are made to create, express, love, celebrate, grieve, laugh, cry, dance, nap, paint, write, be frustrated, compete, achieve, fail, succeed . . . the list goes on and on.
Our greatest freedom and responsibility is to make life meaningful. The primary way we make meaning, interpret meaning and express meaning is through story.
Our meaning and purpose is only found through relationship. We are made for relationship in three interdependent areas: with ourselves, with others, and God/Creation.
Stephen James, MA, LPC-MHSP, NCC, is the Executive Director of Sage Hill Counseling in Nashville, TN. He is also a best-selling author of five books, including Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. He is active in training other mental health professionals as well as to speaking to audiences around the country on the topics of living fully, servant leadership, family relationships, and spiritual authenticity.