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True Joy Can Be Found In the Midst of Challenges

My brother-in-law’s funeral service is this morning, and I am visiting my parents in Colorado. John stayed behind to be with his family. As much as death is a part of life, we are never prepared for someone’s passing. John’s brother’s death is a loss shared by all of us.

I’m glad that I’m able to enjoy these next couple of weeks with my mom and dad. Their house is very peaceful, and I have a chance to relax, reflect and spend time with my parents. It’s been a harrowing past couple of years and I feel like things are just beginning to settle down. I always chant for John’s happiness and to be able to challenge my own weaknesses. I found a wonderful quote in Daisaku Ikeda’s “The Vow of the Ikeda Kayo-kai: Encouragement For Young Women” book:

True joy can be found in the midst of challenges. Problems can help us grow. Strong opponents can make us stronger. It is just as Nichiren says when he writes, “It is not one’s allies but one’s powerful enemies who assist one’s progress” (WND-1, 770).

Often we think that we need to be surrounded by warm, loving and positive people, whether they be family members, friends, neighbors or colleagues. When we are not, we are unhappy. This has been my experience for many years, only the powerful enemies in my life took the form of disembodied voices. It is hard for me to believe that my enemies assist my progress, but perhaps it is true. If not for my struggles battling against the extreme negativity and evil of the voices, I might never have mustered the courage and strength to challenge my own weaknesses. The voices amplified my own pessimism, doubt, negativity, and lack of confidence to the extreme. I still have to constantly fight against this darkness that is part of my own life and create something positive. This why I write.

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