Welcoming Our Struggles

Life is filled with countless emotions and experiences. When things are going well, we tend to glide easily through life. However, when suffering arrives, we struggle with it. Our difficulties usually bring us to a redefining moment. They challenge the way we look at ourself and our life. Our unfulfilled plans, mistakes, doubts and disappointments are all part of sorting through our life. All our experiences are valuable in some way.

Each day, we have the opportunity to welcome whatever emerges. Life is a full range of emotion. They arise when we arrive at a place in our life that fills us with joy, happiness or laughter. Or, we could reach a crossroad in our life that is filled with sadness, tears, and discontent. Sometimes, our pain gives us reason to wonder whether we will ever be OK again. A wounded heart can be just as alarming and unwelcome as a broken arm or an illness. However, just like physical pain is a call to action, our emotional pain needs to be welcomed and given attention. Give your hurt feelings, your physical healing and your unmet needs the kind of support that allows you to more easily shift your approach in how you look at your circumstance.

In the poem, The Guest House, written by the 13th century Sufi mystic, Rumi uses the metaphor of a house guest to create an image; that each day we have the opportunity to welcome something new in our lives, even if it is unexpected. Oftentimes, just as house guests can cause us to feel uncomfortable with their visit, unwelcome feelings that stop by our life, can be just as frustrating. Throughout your life, you greet a range of emotional visitors, some just stopping by to say ‘hello” and others coming through to cause havoc. Rumi’s poem is a worthy reminder to embrace change, face our fears and it encourages us to “treat each guest honorably” and to “welcome and entertain them all!” His poem is most simply about the importance of acceptance. Rather than judging or picking and choosing as a way to turn away from negative experiences, Rumi considers all aspects of our life are critical to one’s overall experience, and therefore, good and bad alike must be accepted.

Acceptance for life as it is turns into resilience. And resilience is a tapestry woven with many threads; creativity, optimism, learning from mistakes, and finding meaning. Underneath the irritations of life can come incredible value. Sometimes, the unexpected comes bearing gifts of new insights, patience, and appreciation for who you truly are.

The Guest House by Rumi (A teaching story translated by Coleman Barks)

“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably.He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes,because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”