The Beauty In Our Fragility
By Chris Palmer, M.A.
First let me say that this story ends well. But it’s rough before then.
In the seemingly unending and hurried movement of our lives, it’s easy to avoid the big questions.
Maybe it scares us to talk about it.
Why are we here?
What is life really about?
What should you do with your life?
And why are there over 4,000 religions if one was the obvious choice?
I’ve spent the majority of my life reading, talking, and thinking about life in every way I know how. And I’ve spoken to people with great faith, and none at all. I’ve even prayed humble and apologetic prayers in the hope that I would get clarity.
And I found something amazing: even people with tremendous faith still feel pain.
I have had elaborate conversations about what strong faith can look like, mostly because I’ve always admired people who seem to have a strong sense of what it’s all about.
And to my surprise, even those with the strongest faith sometimes feel they are left without clear direction.
So they read and they pray and they study with others. They work through their questions asking for guidance.
And sometimes the answers come in like a vending machine. But more often, it takes time.
So it doesn’t appear there is a magic trick to faith. It’s personal; each person grows a different way. And sometimes the heaviness of life — and the waiting for direction — can still seem unbearable.
So all of us — even those with tremendous faith — feel the weight of all of it.
We see things that are horribly unjust.
We see those we love ripped away from us.
And we feel alone, and sometimes abandoned, wondering why it all has to be so hard.
Yet in all of this agonizing fragility and lack of clarity, there is still this amazing gift that all of us are given: the love and connection between people.
Love and connection seem to make even the most horrific things bearable.
It’s amazing to me.
Because life is full of these horrific circumstances that all of us face. Yet somehow we still choose to love.
It’s so beautiful that sometimes I have to be still and just feel the immensity of all of it. Tears flood my eyes and gratitude overwhelms me.
There are times when I think about what I have with my kids, or the things I’ve gone through with my wife, or the fact that somehow my family still loves me; and in all of it I feel like this life is somehow a kind of paradise.
Because of love.
It’s not like my fragility escapes me.
I agonize over whether I can stay alive long enough to get my kids to adulthood.
I worry about giving them what they really need.
And I doubt myself, horribly afraid of failing them.
So I stare up at the stars at night in wonder.
And I pray, apologizing for my doubts, and ask for direction and clarity.
And when an answer doesn’t come in a way that I would like to have it, I am comforted by the endurance of love.
And it’s in you too.
In every picture, hug, and phone call.
In every sleepless night when your kids are away.
In the trembling of your hands while bedside at the hospital.
There is a beauty in you — in all of us — that somehow makes all of this worth the ride.
Despite all of the unfairness.
Despite all of the pain.
And it gives meaning to all of it…