As I work to define my purpose in life, I am often overwhelmed by depression. Lately I have come to realize that sometimes my depression is the result of my personal struggles. At other times, it results from my concern for others. Often I find myself not only sympathizing with those I care about, but empathizing with them as well. I wish so much that I could take away their pain.
At present, my best friend's husband is dying. It isn't the usual situation where she is grieving for the loss of the relationship. That took place years ago when she separated from him. Still, she is dealing with trying to help him transition to the next life as well as trying to help her children cope with the situation. She is grieving in that he was her first love. The separation that comes with death is never easy.
I just learned that another friend is having serious relationship troubles. Having been divorced myself, I know the hardships this entails for a family. My heart breaks for him, his wife and his children. I wish I could make all these problems go away.
In looking at my sadness--both my own and that of others--and how it all relates to my calling in life, I had a sudden realization. I have known for a while that I want to help others live fuller, richer, more productive lives. In this, my depression serves a much larger purpose. I have learned many lessons about coping with obstacles along the way. Pain and grief are great teachers. Pain is necessary for growth, and the reality is that taking away their pain is counterproductive. I can be there for them. I can teach them things I've learned to help them cope.
My job then becomes not so much how to get rid of the pain but how to embrace it and live with it. What can this pain do for me? As I learn to deal with the sadness, I am thankful for it because it has made me strong enough to help others with their own pain. It has blessed me with calling and purpose. Time to get to work!