Suffering Can Have a Silver Lining

“Parents aren’t interested in justice. Parents are interested in quiet.” – Bill Cosby

It's quiet "on the surface" © Debra Tipton

© 2009 Kokoro Photography

I love that quote from Bill Cosby — because it rings SO TRUE. It’s not that we want our children to really change their behavior, or to need us to address the root causes behind their issues, most of the time we just want them to BE QUIET!

Just like the proverbial duck across the water (or swan as is the case with this photo), we somehow feel more peaceful and “in control” if the surface appears calm — even if there’s TONS of paddling, splashing, and busy-ness happening below. It’s what’s visible that’s important.


Well… Not so fast… In our desire to just “go along to get along,” or to “not rock the boat,” or to look for “smooth sailing,” we may actually be doing ourselves a major disservice. Why? Because the difficulties we face — if we face them — provide some of the most important teaching for us.

Furthermore, “real” transformation comes as a result of suffering — not coasting. When things are good enough, we aren’t motivated to dig deeper, to challenge our long-held beliefs, or to push ourselves beyond our self-imposed boundaries. This is true for each of us as individuals, the groups and teams we’re part of, as well as the entire organizations, communities, cities, etc. that we are part of.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not wishing suffering on anyone — however… And this is a big however… “If” you do find yourself in the midst of suffering, don’t sugarcoat it. Don’t run from it. Don’t hide it or mask it with drugs, alcohol, food, or any other approach to self-medication. Also, don’t wallow in it or hold “poor pitiful me” pity parties. Find the learning in it. Find the teacher in the moment, and discover the lesson for you.

That’s the silver lining in the suffering. The teacher. The lesson.

If we try to resist the difficulty, the challenge, the problem or issue, we miss the teaching. As the Chinese Proverb tells us, “The Teacher Arrives When the Student is Ready.”

Let’s let our teachers come forward. Things will look a LOT more silver that way!

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