I have come to strongly believe there is purpose in suffering. If it was something easy such as losing weight, exercising, learning a musical instrument or foreign language, everyone would be so well versed. We like easy. Easy is comfortable. Easy has no requirements. Easy has no movement, no progress, no development. Observing the end of my father’s life, I had such a strong awareness that there was a purpose to his suffering and what we were about to experience in our loss.
I sat at the foot of my father’s bed as he slept. It was his last night in the hospital. My brother had traveled home and my mom went back to the house. I stayed behind to talk with the night nurses about his medications. As I sat in the chair, trying to entertain other thoughts than the obvious, I was still acutely aware that I was watching him die, and realized this is how people lose their faith. I texted the sentiment to a friend. At this point, my father was resting peacefully, even though I noticed his breathing was very audible and labored. Although I knew, I didn’t know. I had no idea of what was truly to come. The next day he came home and later into the early hours of my 15th wedding anniversary passed away.
Was it an easy passing? The answer depends on who you ask. It was labored, but very quick. My short time professionally practicing in long term care taught me that this process can drag on for days, and even weeks. My father and family are blessed that his passing was hours long. Did he suffer? I’m sure he did, despite our best efforts to keep him comfortable. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief the moment, the very moment he was no longer with us. His pain was forever over. I somehow was able to equate it with Christ’s passing on the cross. “It is finished,” echoed through every fiber of my being.
Suffering has many ugly faces. It can look like exclusion, pressures from internal or external forces, loss of a loved one, addiction, the absences of basic needs, struggling relationships, goal achievement, the list is long. The reward becomes growth. Likewise, growth has many faces. My growth is finding the purpose and meaning. is the necessary fuel your growth when you are trapped in the quick sand that is the “mud?” I cannot pretend to know the pain of losing a child, the throws of addiction, or the pains of abuse. It’s all pain, and each of us will know one or more forms. What I do realize is there IS a purpose.
Is it because Christ suffered, that we must, too? I do not know. I believe that everyone one of us in life or death will suffer. We cannot escape it. My mother’s priest who presided over the funeral spoke briefly of the role of suffering. The remainder of the service, we prayed for my father’s soul. There was a purpose in every action. This soothed my soul. I had no tolerance for false reassurance. Father Joseph spoke of suffering, it’s purpose, and the reward comes afterward. The ultimate reward being eternal life in the kingdom of Heaven. I don’t necessarily believe God wants tragedy, but I do believe that he never allows it to be in vain. I accept that it is beyond our comprehension to understand the inner workings of God.
I accept the suffering and its challenges because I have faith that whatever is on the other side of the pain will be worthwhile and more fruitful than I ever imagined. My personal evolution confirms this to be true. I would never have expected to be writing, or have begun to discover my authentic self without living through the pain and adversity of the past two years of grief, depression, anxiety, and health issues. My gratitude and acceptance are just a few pieces that I’ve found in the aftermath of my suffering. The rewards are not accidents in vain, but meaningful blessings. Yes, it’s dirty and muddy that suffering, but it has a way of growing the most unexpected, beautiful little posies.