Everyone has encountered pain and suffering; I have seen a child's heartache at the expense of a careless parent's irresponsibility, an entire town in anxiety because of a natural disaster, a beloved family member claimed by disease. Because I haven't even graduated yet, I've seen probably only a fraction of the trials most of your memories harbor.

A very memorable hardship for me occurred when my great granddad, Lloyd Guy was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. It's often called black cancer because the victim's skin will appear black around the afflicted area. He was taken so quickly by it that I never really got to know him well, but today he is my hero. His last words to me are ones I'll never, ever forget.

In fact, those words are what I live by daily: "Be strong."

I have learned so much from his memory, even now, years after his death. He had such a courageous, durable personality. What he had was character. But, would he have had this without the adversity he experienced as a child?

Therefore, is grief, sorrow, suffering; is it that harmful?

Let's take bees, for example. Newborn bees must use great effort to force their ways out of the wax capsules in which they mature. It is a difficult struggle, but in the process of forcing through the sealed cap, the bees' wings are cleansed of a sticky material that might otherwise inhibit their flying. Every once in a while, moths will make their way inside the hive and eat the tops of the nursery cells. This allows the bees to emerge easily, but the sticky substance remains on their wings. These bees cannot fly, and soon die of starvation and isolation.

Humans, just like bees, sometimes need to suffer. Struggle is often necessary for the establishment of a strong, resilient character. I had a brother with whom I was very close, not just because he was my only sibling, but because our friendship was true, based on trust and love. This last October, Vince took his own life. During the past few months, I have had to question my own values and my sensitivity to the blessing of suffering. I feel so confident that my morals have been tested... and have endured. I hold so tightly to them, not because they make life easier to understand, because they make it more difficult, and more rewarding.

We wouldn't be able to feel happiness unless we had the potential to feel sadness. We couldn't be optimistic unless we could chose between that and pessimism. We shouldn't appreciate only the good, the bad can be good, it just depends on your perspective. But I do know something that we should do, be strong.

With hardship comes experience, with experience comes character. If we have character we have the ability to become satisfied, confident people. I challenge others to find the positive in a situation, any scenario that on the first glance seems misfortunate. We need to look again and recognize the lessons we've learned, and the things we've gained, rather than lost. Life could not give us a better gift than suffering to get to what is intended for us: character.

© Kerry Morris
October, 2002
To email the author, please click on her name.

Please note: This piece was written by a delightful young lady for her sophomore speech class. I so appreciate her willingness to allow me to share her thoughts with you. I'm proud to have Kerry as a wonderful addition to my "extended" family, and I was blessed to be able to spend a large part of the week following her brother's death with Kerry and her family. Kerry's ability to deal with the curves life sometimes throws at us amazes me. In addition to being extremely intelligent and most personable, she is very talented, focused and levelheaded. With young people such as Kerry to help lead our country, our future looks much brighter. With the development of character, there is a promise of tomorrow.

Loving prayers, pk

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