When my life first started really falling apart, from personal and medical trials, to when I had to drop out of college after already taking a semester off for medical leave, two weeks before finals, after working so hard, that I was in so much pain that I could not move--there was one night that was really, really bad. I could not understand why I had to go through so much pain. I felt like I was a good, caring person, who tried to help others, who wanted to put good into the world, and here I was being massacred by things my body and others had done to me. It was awful. I got in a hot shower, tried to calm down, but just ended up curled up crying for almost an hour as the water fell over me. It was a low point. A low point that I am sure every person who suffers from chronic pain/hurt/illness has hit. I could not see the point of it all.
So I did the only thing left. I prayed. I prayed harder than I've ever prayed before. And it wasn't the kind, spiritual prayer of a pious follower of God. It was angry. It was demanding. I demanded to know why God was doing this to me. Why He wasn't helping me, why I hurt so bad I wished I had never been born--if He loved me, loved everyone, why did He make some suffer and others not? It's easy to say that God puts us through struggles when our lives are normal. It's quite another thing that when you lose everything you've worked for and then some, when you're in pain every day for months at a time, or you feel jerked around--it's harder to believe that. And when I prayed in that shower, I did not believe that. I felt like I had been wronged and demanded to know why.
When you have a disease or something go wrong in your life, you need to find a sense of reason and balance in the world. The cause and effect, the meaning of life. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that this is true for religious and non-religious people alike. Because when you lose that sense that there is some reason for why you are going through what you are going through, your whole life can become meaningless suffering.
A few weeks ago, I read some pretty amazing thoughts and comments from women that suffer from endometriosis of many different faiths. From Buddhist to Pagan to Christian to Atheist. What they wrote was inspirational. They all argued on behalf of faith for strength because it is easy to otherwise feel lost with this disease. That having faith in something helps. Whether that is people, God, a great balance, a great deity, many deities, etc... is, in some ways, irrelevant. The key is faith.
And being sick definitely tests your faith. That night, as I prayed, I honestly felt betrayed and foolish. I was so angry. I probably did not deserve any answers. But I got some. Strong, hammering, shut-up-and-listen answers. I can't share all of them because, let's face it, prayers are pretty personal things. But there is something that I definitely can, and should, share.
My suffering is not meaningless. It is difficult, frustrating, and sometimes unbearable, but it's not meaningless. We can't always do the things we are meant to without being put through certain trials. We're born rough rocks and that suffering polishes us into gems. I certainly have more polishing left to be done, and while I do not look forward to that, I can say that my trials have made me more patient, more empathetic, more loving, more kind, more desiring to help others, stronger, and better than I could ever be without them. In some ways they make me worse but overall I am a better person from my suffering. I am being prepared for tasks that I would be unable to do otherwise.
I am grateful for my struggles. I am grateful that I am a strong enough person to cope. I'll admit sometimes I'm miserable, depressed, angry, whatever. I'm sure these are feelings everyone goes through at low points in their lives. But guess what? I'm alive, life is beautiful, and God helps me more than I understood before. So many of the people who have helped me with my illnesses have done so out of love for me and a desire to follow their faiths. I am so blessed and have learned how much some of the people in my life love me because of how they have helped me through these tough times. I've lost some friends but I've made some new ones. And even though they don't always understand what I'm going through, I'm not sure what I would without the love of my family.
It's easy to fall into the trap of looking at blessings as a more-or-less-than-others thing. I personally do not endorse that view. I don't think God intended me to determine my welfare by looking at my life compared to others. Our relative view of the world and its population is not very all knowing/all encompassing. We can never fully understand what another's life is like, which consequently makes us poor judges. Instead, I try to focus on everything good in my life and see them as blessings. No comparisons. And I've got to admit, even though I would have loved to have my life without the hiccups, some pretty amazing blessings have come from all of this. And seeing how some of my 'endo-sisters' are some of the kindest most caring women I know, I've got to believe some amazing blessings have come to them too.
You might be religious or not, you may think I'm foolish or idealistic to think this way, but I really believe what I've wrote. I feel blessed not only because of all the wonderful things that are right with my life, but I really have been able to do good things because of lessons I've learned from my suffering. I've helped people and done good and put good in the world. I'm not perfect, I have much left to learned, but I've certainly learned a lot from all of this and I'm grateful. The lessons are hard, but worth learning (I hope).