The Struggle

by Nate St. Pierre on January 23, 2012

You’re going through a struggle right now.

Maybe it’s in the form of depression or panic attacks, so debilitating that you physically shut down and can’t do anything. Wanting to scream and rage and cry and knowing that you can’t really do that, and even if you did, it wouldn’t help anything, and the fear and pain and destruction would still be there, gnawing at your insides, making you want to die, to do anything to escape from the torture. Wondering how much longer you can survive in the face of constant mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion.

Maybe you have cancer or another serious disease, and you’re not sure whether you’ll live or die. You’re in and out of the hospital constantly, you’re doing the treatments they tell you you need (the ones you can afford, anyway), and you have no idea if they’re even doing any good. You wonder what the point of all this is, and how much longer it’ll go on. Sometimes you think death would actually be a relief. But then you realize that you don’t want to die, and the thought cycle starts all over again.

Maybe your child is very sick, and you are faced with the horrifying prospect of seeing the most precious human being on the planet dying right in front of you, and you are powerless to help. Understanding that you would instantly give anything and everything, including your own life, to make this little one whole again, begging to be allowed to do it just this one time, but knowing that you can’t . . . that no one can.

Maybe you’re an entrepreneur or run a small business, and you constantly feel the tension between the way things are currently done, and the way they can be done. Realizing that you could easily go and get a “regular” job somewhere and ease so much stress, but that wouldn’t satisfy your desire to succeed in creating something out of nothing.

Maybe you know a certain set of truths about art, philosophy, or religion, and you spend more time and effort than you care to recall trying to show others the immense possibilities this life has to offer if they would just open up their eyes and see. Knowing that changing a life in this way is a privilege, but wondering if it’s worth the toll it takes on you.

Maybe you’re going through the intense emotional pain of a broken relationship, and you can’t bring yourself to forgive the other person. Perhaps you can’t even forgive yourself. Craving the love and comfort of someone special to you, but feeling that somehow you must not be worthy of that experience.

Maybe you have no money. Work is scarce, bills are due, debt overshadows you, and help is far away. Wondering what will happen to your family when you can’t afford a place to live or food to eat. Thinking there’s no way something like that should happen to you, but knowing there’s a very real chance that it will . . . and it’s frightening.

When you’re lying awake at night wondering how you’re going to get through everything you have to deal with, it may help to remember the following.

People weaker than you have succeeded.

People stronger than you have failed.

At least that’s what it looks like on the surface. But when it comes to making it through the pain in your life, it’s rarely the external circumstances that matter. It’s all about faith. And I’m not talking about faith in yourself, either – the belief that you’ll get it done through sheer determination. Yes, that’s a part of it, but most of those who run on pure drive and determination will ultimately tire out and fade at the end.

That’s the beauty of having true faith. It doesn’t tire out like determination does. When determination tires, nothing gets done, and all is lost. But when faith tires, it rests in hope and love. It abides. It grows stronger in rest. Because faith knows that it can’t do this alone. It puts its trust in something more important than itself . . . in God and also in others.

There are always those who believe in you, who support you, who love you. Sometimes they’re right by your side. Sometimes they’re not. Wherever they are, seek them out. Talk to them. Listen to them. Cherish them.

They’re right about you, you know. They see the best in you – the part of yourself that’s always there, but you don’t always feel. The part of you that’s beautiful, strong, and resilient. Let them remind you of who you really are.

Struggle is the human condition, but hope is the human spirit.

And there is always hope.

————–

(If you’d like the extended PDF version of this piece, you can get it below.)

(Image source: Pink Sherbet Photography)

  • I hate you.  You just made me tear up.  Damn good writer you are, sir.

    • Haha, love that the first response is “I hate you.” 🙂

  • This is totally what I needed. Thank you, Nate. This is beautiful and thought-provoking and encouraging. I’m sharing it.

  • After the past couple of weeks, I so needed this.
    Thank you. 

  • My family and I are going through tough times right now. I plan to share this post with them. Thank you so much! You are right, there is always hope! 

  • Gr8 post Nate! Tweeted & shared on FB!  Thanks for sharing such gr8 encouraging words!

  • Danielle Smith

    Somehow, some way, you knew.  This is just what I needed to read.  At this very minute.  Thank you.  It is beautiful and perfect.  And I would tell you that I hate and love you all at the same time, for making me cry and helping me to breathe again today, but j$ already stole my line.  xoxo 

    • Aw, thanks. 🙂
      That J$ bastard steals everybody’s lines, haha

  • Hauntingly beautiful … thank you.

  • So easy to lose perspective, so welcome to have it gently brought back to sit before you.

    Thank you.

  • Crappers….that was good stuff. 

  • Motherofbun

    Am printing this out and tacking it to my bulletin board. Because I need to read this. More than once or twice. Or even 10 times! Thank you.

    • Wow, the bulletin board! Thank you, that’s such a nice compliment.

  • at this very moment. on this very day. in this very place. you saved my heart. thank you!

  • Sara

    I am rarely at a loss for words. This is one such rare occasion, so I will just say, “Thank you, Nate.” and send love and light westward, hoping it finds you well. 

  • “Struggle is the human condition, but hope is the human spirit.” Love this! 🙂

  • Guest

    But what if one is an atheist. Then what? Aren’t they also capable of overcoming struggle as well?

    • Do you view this as an article about God, because of one word? Look again at that sentence, and the two paragraphs following. Hopefully it becomes more clear after a closer look.

    • Why should religion matter Guest? because it doesn’t, unless you think it does.

    • RE: Guest: “Faith” can mean faith in God, faith in yourself, faith in humanity, faith in yourself, okay i already said that but its very important to have faith in yourself, faith that: although you may not be able to change others you may find the words that will inspire them.  Faith is a powerful feeling & does not apply to only one religion or way of thinking 

  • Funny…that’s what my clients, friends, and family and I have been talking about in recent months. I absolutely LOVE this post. Thanks buddy! Wish you’d come back to Milwaukee, though ;P

  • Another example of the power of love and support from community near and far comes from The Bloggess: 

    http://thebloggess.com/2012/01/wow/ 

  • Niaih

    I had to journey far to learn this and love to see it in your article. Thank you very much. As a reader, I confess to skipping the opening scenarios because I wanted to read your message. There was a time in my life, I believe, when I would have needed to follow you through all the scenario’s, slowly while smarting with my own pain. You’re the only person who has described this truth that I share with you. Relieved and snuggling in just a bit where I recognize this pool of light in another’s voice and feel companionship.

  • Crazybutbeautifuldisaster

    I agree with J$ I hate you, but love you at the same time. Tears falling but for good reasons. Sharing this. Thanks again.

  • F Ontiveros27

    Thank you. That is just what I needed to realize. God bless.

  • Natetastic with the spot-on blog post. You just slapped me with a stick of inspiration.

    I’m going to hit you back when you least expect it.

    With a brick.

    of awesome. 🙂

    • Katie, you always make me smile. 🙂
      Please hit me right in the face.

  • The Stiletto Mom

    Love, love, loved it. I always question what others see in me….and discount it as fluff all too often when I’m down. I should listen more closely and let them, as I let your post, lift me up. Well done my friend!

    And I agree, J steals everyone’s lines. 🙂

    • It’s all too easy for me to discount what others say as well, and stay stuck in what my own brain is telling me . . . which is usually less than optimal.

      Freakin’ J$!
      And Mr. Potter!

  • Words can’t express the gratitude I have for you posting this, it truly touched my heart.

  • My husband and I are in the midst of making some choices… or, rather what I am discovering is we are trying to control things with our now-minded understanding. Just tonight, as we discussed our limits… time, finances, sanity, and a billion other considerations… a tone of hopelessness set in. In that moment I told Paul that though we need to pay attention to practical limits, we also need to be daring and dream. We need to pray. We need to hope. Oh my gosh, God is so much bigger, wilder, and more capable than we are! … … … Then I sat at my computer and read this here post. I think j.money said it best… I hate you (too) 😉

    • I’m smiling my biggest smile of the night reading all the “hate” comments. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Since 2004 I have gone through many of the things mentioned in your blog.  Loss of loved ones, loss of employment, loss of places to live, illness of a child so many so close to the heart.  It made me chuckle in a good way.  I am at the end of that path finally.  I say it made me chuckle because the universe has a way of kicking you in the butt to move you along.  If you don’t listen to it, it kicks you harder and harder until you do.  It kept throwing the same thing at me.  “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it” – Margaret Fuller came on the tag of a cup of tea.  A card I got for Christmas “May you always believe in your gifts and talents and share them wherever life takes you”.  A friend at work said the same thing recently and now you.  I am glad I finally decided to listen to it.  I start a new career in a few weeks in a field that I love.

  • Pctaximom03

    Don’t know that I’ve ever known such a spirit as yours. Beautifully, compassionately written.

  • Whome

    Wow that was truly wonderful.  I think everyone should read that.

  • True dat! Go you. Remind the people how awesome they are. We all forget at one time or another right?

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  • thanks so much for this, nate!  it was a beautiful reminder to start the work week! 

    i think all to often we forget that struggle is a huge part of the faithful walk, and do all we can to avoid it, rather than embrace it.  it is in moments as you described that we look UP rather than IN.

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  • Just what I needed to read! Been struggling a lot lately. Thanks so much.

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