If it wasn’t for the darkness, we wouldn’t appreciate the light.

Suffering is a gift.

Before you scoff and avoid this blog, like the other things you probably treat in the same way, I want you to hear me for a moment and try to suspend your disbelief. If you can do that, you may see that there’s something about the darkness that can make you come alive.

There’s something more to suffering than just suffering itself.

It’s something that we all share. It’s something that no one is immune to and it comes in many different forms for each person. But we all experience it. We all go through it…and as we are all breathing life into this world we are all weeping in one way or another.

Many try to escape it.

They do anything and everything possible to fill the holes in their soul instead of face grim realities and this only makes the suffering worse. Because once those holes can no longer be filled we end up realizing that the holes are still there. In reading many confessions that are made in the last moments of life..there seems to be one common thread amongst those in a great deal of pain.


Regret that they didn’t actually follow their dreams, speak their heart, do what they always wanted to do or lived a life that they thought they had to live because they were told that was the way they were supposed to do it. And in those final moments of life, they are stung by the deep pain of regret and pass on only knowing a fraction of what they were capable of.

And yet, why does regret come about? Primarily fear. Fear that if you do follow your dreams, speak your heart, travel a new path…that it won’t work out or that it will fall apart in some way. So instead of actually making the effort we numb ourselves to the point where we don’t actually live a life at all.

And where does the suffering part come in?

We avoid the darkness, the pain, the suffering that naturally comes along with living  because we are scared of it. And, to be honest, for a very good reason. It hurts. These pains seemingly tear us to pieces and sheer so deep within our hearts that we never want to feel that type of pain again.

So we run like hell. We run away from that feeling and construct walls to protect ourselves from it ever getting in. But it always does. Because no matter how clever we are in our ability to try to protect ourselves, life has a wonderful way of giving you exactly what you need.

Maybe not what you want.

But what you need.

And sometimes, we need to be broken down to pieces in order to understand what it is to build ourselves back from nothing.

The benefit of falling flat on your back, broken, with nothing left in your life is that you get to understand what it means to create a foundation. Ground 0 is the place where you begin building something new. But there’s a decision there. One that is beyond empowering if you actually make it.

The decision to start anew…even if you have fallen as far into the depths as you can possibly imagine.

In this place, you will suffer. All too many times do I remember starting from what seemed like the pitch black and not being able to see any way out. Everything hurt. Everything was an absolute struggle. Every single day I wanted to hide away because I was embarrassed of myself and who I had become.

But in that place, I had a vision of what I wanted to see on the way out and struggled endlessly until those things started to come to light. Some of these things took years to take shape. One took 15 years. But there was a belief – even though that belief was challenged ruthlessly at times – that flowed through my veins and I tried and tried again.

Failure lives in this place.

A failure the size of a thousand lifetimes.

Another decision is to be made – to welcome failure into your life as a way of removing the ways that things “do not work,” getting you one step closer to something that will.

So you fail and fail again and again until something finally clicks. Because there is no other option really. There’s no quit – you’re already in the dark – and since you have that small vision of what is possible for you there’s never really an option to completely give up.

There’s only up. Only up from where you started.

So you continue to climb.

But the real gift of suffering comes from a way of being when you are in this place of darkness that is not really ever talked about in the mainstream.

You get shaped, pounded, molded, destroyed and forged into something that can withstand anything. And on this journey out of the black, you become something that can handle anything. Suffering strengthens you. I never said it feels good, but it viciously pounds you with perspective until you are able to see a different way. You are able to see that everyone in this world is fighting some sort of battle and out of this suffering comes something else…


Compassion…the ability to “be with” anything.

The greatest gift of horrible suffering with a will to be resilient is that you birth one of the most beautiful qualities of all…compassion.

And your compassion will change the world.

So if you are suffering, try to see it this way. Of course there’s pain. Of course you are hurting badly. Allow others to hold you when you need to be held. But never quit. Because the suffering will pass no matter how bad it is. And from that place, if you allow the seed to grow in the darkness, you will birth a strength and a compassion that will help set others free from their suffering.

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project