The gift of struggle

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Thursday after Ash Wednesday.
 Today’s Scriptures:  Deut 30:15-20    Luke 9:20-25

A few years ago I read “Scarred by Struggle: Transformed by Hope”, written by Joan Chittister.  Today I am revisiting some of her powerful words to share them with you.

Her premise is that struggle is a gift, and through it we obtain many personal gifts which ‘grow us’ into a new creation.  From my experience, I have found there is much to be gained from struggle and the scars we carry are signs to us that our growth has come at a price. But indeed we grow out from our struggles in new directions and new life.

The following are a few excerpts from her book:

“To struggle is to begin to see the world differently. It gives a new sense of self. It tests all the faith in the goodness of God that we have ever professed. It requires an audacity we did not know we had.  It demands a commitment to the truth.  It leads to self-knowledge.  It builds forbearance.  It tests our purity of heart.  It brings total metamorphosis of soul.

If we are willing to persevere through the depths of struggle we can emerge with conversion, independence, faith, courage, surrender, self-acceptance, endurance, purity of heart, and a kind of personal growth that takes us beyond pain to understanding.  Enduring struggle is the price to be paid for becoming everything we are meant to be in the world.”[1]

[1] Joan D. Chittister  p.19

“The isolation that marks any serious struggle is a call to recognize that life is full of gifts that come and go, come and go as we ourselves come and go through the many stages of life. Detachment from the  idea that there is only one way for me to go through life joyfully is its key. The pain of loss is a real and a present thing. It manacles my soul and breaks my heart, yes. But holy indifference – detachment – teaches me that there is not room for isolation, abandonment, death of spirit when I lose one thing because I know that there is something else waiting for me in its place.

Designed to enable a person to regard all of life with an open mind and a willing heart, detachment – holy indifference – is the foundation of spiritual discernment.

To discern is to choose between available options on the grounds that both are good but that one is more likely to result in greater growth at this particular time than can be expected from the other under these prevailing conditions, though both are good possibilities. Discernment and detachment are lifelines out of the pit of loss and the island of isolation to which it threatens to dooms us.”[2]

[2] Joan D. Chittister. op.cit. p.35


Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope.

Cambridge. UK: Wm Erdman Publishing, 2005

Joan Chittister is a Benedictine sister (O.S.B), a former prioress and a social psychologist.  She is a well published best selling author with a doctorate in speech communication theory.

Other titles include The Fire in These Ashes and Heart of Flesh.

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Author: Creative Spiritual Directions

I am an enthusiastic Christian and creative Spiritual Director, practicing in Melbourne. I am a member of Conference of Spiritual Directors, Australia and qualified at Heart of Life Spirituality Centre --- My creative background comes from visual arts and community development. I am currently undertaking my Masters in Therapeutic Arts Practice.This blog is a sacred space for sharing inspirations, experiences, reflections and practical steps in creative spiritual direction. --- I INVITE YOU TO FOLLOW Creative Spiritual Directions.com and share the journey with comments and insights . --- I WELCOME ENQUIRIES for personal or group workshops, retreats and spiritual direction.

2 thoughts on “The gift of struggle”

  1. Thanks, Blanche. These readings and your comments are very encouraging as I am struggling with my faith and life circumstances. I too have a lot to be thankful for and I can look back on my journal and see growth, Grace and change.

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  2. I find that struggle is definitely a gift. It turns me upside down and inside out, at the same time bringing me closer to God. It’s a slow process and perseverance is the key. When I reflect on the past pain and struggle and my present intimate relationship with God, I wouldn’t change a thing. Faith, trust in God, courage, boldness, endurance, total surrender and so much more I have gained outweighs the pain and struggle.

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