What good comes from suffering?

Life is never going to be a beautiful fairytale where everything is perfect. We all hope for the best in every situation. We would be crazy not to want the best. But life is never going to be the best one hundred percent of the time. There will be bad. There will be sad. There will be horrible. Bad times are equally occuring in life as good times. There’s nothing we can do to change that. Bad things will happen. And bad things will happen to good people.

It’s sad to think about but it’s a reality that we all have to deal with. Many of us have dealt with horrible situations that felt like the end of the world. It beats us down to our knees and makes us feel nothing but pain. And when we try to explain why these things happen we can’t. We may think some people deserve pain and suffering. But there’s no way to justify pain and suffering for everyone all the time. All that said, once we’ve suffered enough we can find the silver lining in it. But only you can say what value you get from the suffering you personally endure. So tell me, what good comes from suffering?

Here’s a short story on what good comes from suffering in my eyes.

I pulled out of the driveway and headed down the street. As I flicked on my headlights, I started getting nervous. I’ve driven late at night many times before but this time felt so much different. Nobody I knew wanted to make the trip with me but at this poing I was really wishing one of my friends were down. Who was I kidding, it was the night of Thanksgiving and everyone was busy shopping in sale hungry crowds at the mall. It wasn’t going to stop me from my mission. So I just kept driving slowly but surely. The worst part was I had no idea where exactly I was driving.

The original plan was to go downtown in the middle of the city of Atlanta. I felt that would give me the most realistic experience. But instead I was driving aimlessly down roads trying to covertly convince myself to turn back. At the very last second, instead of turning back, I parked in a shopping plaza parking lot and turned off the car. I grabbed my bag of belongings with clothes and a thin blanket and started walking aimlessly. It was the same difference except I felt eve more vulnerable walking with no direction in the late hours of the night.

Eventually, I found a Walmart parking lot that seemed like it would be suitable for the night. I scoped out a nice part of the pavement with a curb to rest my head on and a tree for shelter I guess. I laid down and got under my thin blanket. It was horrible. I know it was nothing near the actual reality homeless people go through on a daily basis, but I was still determined to get a glimpse. The concrete was terribly hard and uncomfortable on my back. The curb was aggressively stretching and cricking my neck. It was freezing cold that night with the poor blanket barely shielding me from the wind. And every now and then a random person or animal would walk by and scare me out my sleep.

I was suffering and it was only the beginning. As the hours went by the night got so terribly cold. I was twisting and turning trying to get relief from the hard pavement on my back and hips. And before I knew it I was in so much pain. I don’t mean pain from the discomfort of being out on the street. I mean I was in a full blown sickle cell crisis with pain shooting all throughout my body. My back was aching nonstop, my legs were hurting with every bend, and my arms were tight. My whole body was ice cold and I could barely move without even more pain darting through me head to toes.

I knew this was a possiblity. Sickle cell is no joke and I often get sick from the slightest things like a cold shower. I knew I could possibly get sick sleeping out in the cold on Thanksgiving night. But I insisted that I had to go through with the experiment. And what made it worse was that I didn’t bring my medicine or phone with me. I left them in the car. I wanted to get closer to a real experience of being homeless with no real resources to depend on. But in that moment I needed them more than I could imagine. I had no choice but to get up and back track to find the car. It was a horrible and painful journey getting back to the car.

And it sucked trying to drive coherently all the way back home. But I eventually made it. I stumbled in the house and fell over into my bed with excruciating pain. My mom and DeAsia quickly came to my aid. They were both furious that I put myself through all that suffering. I knew in my heart that it was something I wanted to experiment with. And I learned so much that night. I now see that pain and suffering is good for building gratitude. I’m grateful for the bed I sleep in, the house that keeps me warm, and the people that I can depend on. I didn’t need to put myself out in the cold to learn the message but it surely made it that much realer.

Thank you Mom and DeAsia for helping me. But just know, I never finished what I started that night! 🙂

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