I remember an episode on “The Twilight Zone” many years ago when a man woke up to find himself in a beautiful home with a valet waiting to serve him. He asked the valet if he had died or what? The valet affirmed that the man was in the afterlife and that all of his wishes would now be automatically granted. Any trip, any food, relationships, anything at all would go his way. He soon learned that he even won every game and always said just the right thing. Finally, the puzzled man asked the valet how it could be possible that he had gone to heaven when he had not even tried to live a good life. The valet answered by asking him why he thought this was heaven . . Then the eerie music began.
Imagining not having any problems might seem at first glance like heaven on earth. It depends on how you look at problems. The Oxford dictionary defines a problem as “a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.” If we have confidence in our resources, problems become a challenge that we know will result in some kind of growth in ourselves, even if the outcome might not seem positive to external appearances.
Meeting a difficult situation and finding resolution can be one of the most interesting and ennobling human experiences. The special dignity in people who have faced and transformed problems into personal growth and for the good of others cannot be achieved in any other way. It is a special kind of beauty.
In October we celebrate breast cancer survivors who have this beauty as do those who have lost a loved one to the disease and keep working for a cure. This beauty is in the face of a young veteran going on with life with a prosthesis. This beauty is in the faces of those who have suffered some misfortune and have found a way to come back stronger.