The Gift of Life’s Difficult Experiences

hand holding sand
by Vance Larson

I don’t like to be on top. There is an old saying “That it is easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain. But take that holy man and place him in the city, and see how long he remains holy.”

I like it down and dirty. And tonight while in meditation, that is all I could think about. Because earlier in the day I took my mom out for an unexpected lunch date. Little did we know that just two blocks down, there was a mass shooting event taking place. Five people killed and countless injured. How many of those people got up this morning (unknowingly) walked out the door never to return home to kiss their loved ones? All walking out the door to see their last sunrise and to take their last breath of fresh air.

I think that is why I have always ran towards city. The mountain was safe. And we rarely grow without trials. Years of providing crisis work has in some ways desensitized me to a lot of terrible things. On the other hand, I have experienced raw emotion which has led me to deep gratitude. While I aspire to be a holy man, I put the religious books down years ago. While I have respect for them, God does not reside in a book. God resides in all living things. And that is how I personally feel connected to God.

For every pain in my life there came understanding. And while it often took years to understand, I was learning patience. There is a freedom that with comes pain. You begin to soften. Not all, but those who use their pain as a tool tend not to harden. When we see pain as process and not as a punishment, we let go of pity, despair and playing the victim. We, through the power of the process, gain strength. We declare that we have a part to play in this dance. That we will not identify ourselves as defeated.

The mountain top has always been my anchor. But the city has always been my answer. Given my choice, I’ll take the bottom every time. It’s not that I wish to have a life of pain. I just have leaned to embrace it. I have started many of lectures by saying “We are going to have to fight through some pretty messed up days, to find the best version of ourselves.” If you can do that, you can do anything.

So take some chances. Drop some fears. Learn to lean into the uncomfortable. And if you do. You may just end up thinking that being on top is not always the best position to be in.

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