I got this quote in an email this morning –
The struggle, like life itself, should be joyful. (Miriam Miranda)
From the same email – Miriam Miranda has dedicated her life to protecting the culture and land of the Garífuna people in Honduras. Throughout her 30 years of on-the-ground activism, she has faced threats, attacks, and imprisonment; still, she fearlessly advocates for preservation. To her, the harshest opponents — big business, real estate, and tourism development, to name but a few — are no match for the power of a woman fighting for a bright, sustainable future, and a better social safety net for the younger generation. Her continued efforts are nothing if not optimistic — and even, as her words here suggest, a joyful struggle.
The word “struggle” has negative connotations which makes it hard for me at least to associate with the word joy. If one is poor and homeless life itself becomes a struggle. We see on the nightly news the immigrants at our southern border struggling just to survive, most after having struggled for months just to get here. Most of us, however, are not struggling just to survive. Our struggle (our purpose, if you will) is most often based on some personal decisions that we make to take actions to better ourselves or the lives of others (quite often our families).
Quite often on the nightly news we see stories of people, some quite young, who have embarked on a mission to help others. They may have made it their purpose to collect coats for the cold or food for the hungry or toys for needy children at Christmas. Some may be providing shelter for the homeless in their area or perhaps a safe haven for victims of domestic abuse. Those stories on the news might often cause you to stop and think about what you might do or maybe think about what you are not doing. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the thoughts of how big of a task doing something like what was covered in the story would be to take on. We “struggle” to think of a purpose or mission that we could tackle.
The truth is that we don’t need to embark on some “holy grail” quest or mission. If you have the time and/or resources to take on something like forming and operating a charitable non-profit, more power to you and good luck; however, few have that luxury. Instead, look about you for already established non-profits in your community and volunteer at one or more of them. There are food pantries and homeless shelters and many other very worthwhile organizations in almost every community – most hiding in plain sight. If you go to a church, find out the things that your church is doing to help in the community and join in the efforts. You will find a sense of mission, purpose, and joy from joining any of those efforts.
If putting yourself out there in a volunteer community service role is not for you, maybe just taking on the task of being a better person will provide you with the challenge (purpose) that you need to find joy in life. Making a mindful decision to be a better person gives you something to shoot for each morning and something to evaluate and be joyfully proud of each night. Even if you find little to be happy about at the end of any day, that evaluation provides you with even more incentive to do better tomorrow. Forgive yourself for today’s failures and resolve to do better tomorrow. If today’s failures were caused by the actions of someone else, forgive them and learn from the experience. You will get another chance to do better tomorrow, and you will be wiser then.
Seeing life or the issues that you face as a struggle is a negative way to look at things. If instead you accept the challenge of overcoming the setbacks or obstacles that may come your way as part of your mission and purpose in life, then you will be able to pause and celebrate (be joyful) when you have met those challenges. You will have fulfilled your purpose.
It’s not a struggle; it’s your purpose…