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Life is Difficult

Wednesday, 28 September 2022  | Nils von Kalm


The opening line of M. Scott Peck’s classic, The Road Less Traveled says, ‘Life is difficult’.

A couple of months ago I went on a men’s retreat. It was profound, as it showed me again the value of entering into our pain. We all carry pain, especially over the last couple of years. Many of us have carried pain for many years, even decades.

About five years ago I wrote a lengthy article on grief. I told part of the story of my marriage breakdown and how I handled some of my grief from that.

One of the things I said in that article is that grief takes time. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you should be over something by now. It takes as long as it takes. Let it happen to you. Don’t force it. Let it happen and embrace it when it comes.

Also, don’t believe the idea that time heals all wounds. Time only heals wounds when we face them.

Our pain is going to come out in some way. That’s guaranteed. It will either come out in healthy tears flowing in a safe space where you can freely express it and feel the grief; or it will come out in destructive ways such as rage, violence, addiction or burnout. Either way, it will come out. If our society is to survive and we don’t tear each other apart, we must process our pain and transform it.

When we face our pain and let the tears flow, healing comes. Our wounds become part of us. They are to be loved, not shamed or shunned.

We are beloved daughters and sons. As Richard Fay says, you are not loved because you’re good; you’re loved because you’re you. Your worth has nothing to do with your achievements or performance, whether they are successes or failures. Your worth is inherent simply because you exist.

This is why I still love the Christian story, a story of God entering into our pain. And then God’s grief giving way to love. It is freed to love in the face of violence and hate. That is how love has the final victory. Not by responding with violence, but by absorbing it and feeling it.

I love that Jesus is referred to in the Bible as the Man of Sorrows. I also love how Richard Rohr describes God. We often talk about ‘Almighty God’, but Rohr says let’s talk about ‘All-suffering God’. That’s how we touch reality.

As long as we only embrace the feel-good aspect of life, our faith remains shallow. Entering into our pain takes us to the deepest place, to reality, to the loving heart of God.


Nils von Kalm is a Melbourne-based writer who is passionate about the relevance of Jesus to life in the 21st century. He is the author of Bending Towards Justice: How the Gospel is More Relevant Than Ever in the 21st Century and can be found at


Image credit: Loss: A sculpture by Jane Mortimer. Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash.

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