I’ve just finished reading Victor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search For Meaning. It’s a harrowing account of the atrocities suffered by himself and millions of others in concentration camps. I have to say, that I tread lightly when even sharing my perspective on this read. The suffering described in these pages is epic, and unjust to say the very least. The pure, unending horror suffered by these precious individuals is more than my heart can bear. I literally hate that the experiences described in this book were suffered by any human on the planet in anyone’s lifetime. Sorrow bypasses my soul and grips my spirit. I cannot fathom the ripping of a man’s soul that took place as they were treated day after day after year lower than the value of animals.
I am enamored by many phrases throughout this book, but one that struck my core was this:
“The prisoner who had lost his faith in the future- his future- was doomed. With his loss of belief in the future he also lost in his spiritual hold; he let himself decline to mental and physical decay” (Frankl, page 74).
Do not lose the will to overcome and to power through your obstacles. Sometimes life and its unexpected tragedies and trials seems to attempt to swallow us whole. They mount before us like a mountain to climb and they call to our will to conquer them. I think of my friends who have lost a child through tragedy or illness or miscarriage. I think of the many friends who have experienced the brokenness of a marriage they thought would last forever. I think of a friend who has lost not one, but two loving partners in her lifetime before she was even forty years old. I think of the friend who after years of dedication decided to quit her job in search of deeper meaning only to find herself perpetually unemployed and the despair that has stirred for her. I think of the woman in me that has battled an all-consuming eating disorder and absolute mental turmoil for decades. I think of a woman I know who was raped, carried a baby to term, only to have him murdered by her fiancé through his anger while she was away. I think of a woman who was beaten repeatedly by a man who swore his love to her until death did them part. I think of the many patients I cared for as a Trauma Nurse back in the day. I think of my career as a sexual assault nurse and I remember the hundreds of times I was called to work to complete an exam. I think of so many things that people have suffered and my heart wants to break wide open with tears that rival Niagara Falls. Suffering in this lifetime is inherently unavoidable.
That said, may I tenderly suggest this: Please, do not lose courage. Do not quiet the small inner voice that wants to tell you that you are strong and worthy and wise for the way forward. Turn up that volume. Your life holds deep meaning and you matter to the people of this world. It would not be the same without you. Your suffering matters. It matters deep and wide and there is room enough for your tears and disappointment. Do not, under any circumstance, lose hope in the fact that you matter. There are people in your life that are better off for having you in it. There are people in your life that feel comfort because of your presence. There are people, like me, who simply sit and ponder what you have overcome and genuinely feel a surge of hope stir when I choose to face my own mountain. Believe vehemently in your future as a survivor.
He who has a “why” to live can bear with almost any “how”. -Victor Frankl
I believe in us, our worth and the power to overcome our suffering.