John Newton, slave ship captain and author of my dad’s favorite hymn titled Amazing Grace, had this to say as he looked back on his life – “I have reason to praise God for my trails, for, most probably, I should have been ruined without them.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Arhipelago, who suffered in Russian prisons for years, wrote: “Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.” Viktor Frankl, who you’ve heard me quote almost endlessly, authored Man’s Search for Meaning and in it describes the hell of Nazi concentration camps. He also, surprisingly, said, “In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of sacrafice. Those who have a why to live, can bear with almost any how.”
Every day in the work of BTL, we encounter good men and women with seemingly overwhelming struggles. Whether the struggles involve themselves, their partners, their business, or their babies, these struggles overwhelm nearly all of us in the moment, in the crucible we experience them. Sometimes it’s helpful to understand a broader perspective then the current struggle affords. Remember this, friend. When you suffer, your vision and perspective shrinks. Your normal brain develops acute tunnel vision and focuses exclusively on what is wrong. Train your brain to open a bit wider when it tells you to go turtle and sit in your pain. It might be helpful to remember a little grappy wisdom from Jack and BTL practice 11 – ” You can’t be grateful and fearful at the same time.”
So, friend, learn from John, Aleksandr, Viktor, and the Jack and Jills around you. Broaden your perspective. Nobody wants to suffer. All do, however. When you find yourself in a pain prison of your mind, train your brain to focus away from fear and toward gratitude. Get through the current iteration and stop the brain from flying forward. The pain will stop. The overwhelming moment will too. The sun will rise. Your soul is maturing. God, help me see things from your perspective. God, help me widen my perspective. Thanks, Jack, for bringing your perspective to practice three years ago. You’re going to make one L of a lawyer.
Live hard. Love harder (Thanks, Teeks)…