I’ve always had a fascination for anatomy and the design of nature. I find nature so weird and yet so beautiful and charming. Each of us is a unique being, and so if we are being authentically ourselves, that makes us different… it makes us weird. But that’s good! It’s genuine weirdness that comes about from being who we are meant to be, not a contrived weirdness that tries to be weird for its own sake.
Being ourselves can be challenging in the face of social pressures or expectations. As I journey closer to the man God calls me to be, it’s making me more of an oddball in the eyes of the world, but more perfect in the eyes of God. I spent way too many years afraid to be me, fearful of harsh labels and criticisms by others who were perhaps just muffling their own fears in becoming who they were called to be.
This journey we take through life in these odd human bodies is not easy. We’re besieged with discomfort. When I find myself uncomfortable by the human condition, whether it’s hunger, a headache, a wound, drowsiness, or lustful urges, I thank God I can suffer. Why? Suffering builds character! God has blessed me with a privileged life and yet I don’t want to get overly comfortable here on Earth, so I’ve found it helpful to introduce opportunities to physically or emotionally detach myself from comfort through intentional suffering such as fasting, cold showers, or donating possessions.
Exercise is another example, and perhaps a more popular form of suffering. There’s a physical benefit to it that is juxtaposed by the pain to get there, but when you lean into exercise it can really become a form of suffering that you actually enjoy and look forward to! When you run, you are literally tearing muscle fibers in your leg, and yet the overall act of running feels good. Of course there are a lot of chemicals coursing through our body as we exercise that help with these feelings, but when we boil exercise down to what is actually happening I find it’s really quite an odd phenomenon. These controlled forms of suffering—where we are willingly consenting to it—can prepare us for when suffering comes our way that is out of our control.
When I look back at my life, the real memorable moments and the times of intense growth were the times that I suffered greatly. Suffering can bolster us not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually if we open our hearts to that.