In the wake of Memorial Day, I’d like to award some badges of honor. Millions of them, actually. So if you’re dealing with fallout from bereavement, depression, chronic stress, bipolar disorder, anxiety, compulsive behavior probs, PTSD, or other emotional/mental woes, step forward to be adorned…

In accepting this challenge to suffer bravely, life has a meaning up to the last moment, and it retains this meaning literally to the end…

“Always knew you were a little quirky, Bill, but now I’m worried about you. I deserve a badge of honor? For what? Oh, I know – for honorably screwing-up my life and the lives of those I’ve come in contact with. That must be what you mean.”

Well, not exactly…

You sure seem to have the stops along your supposed failure trail down-pat, don’t you? Okay, fine. But now I want you to transition from the stops to the fallout from all those supposed failures – the internal and external scars. I’m thinkin’ they generate buckets of aggravation and self-loathing, so maybe it’s time for fresh perspective.

Drawing a blank on those scars? How ‘bout some help?

  • The marks on your skin from self-injury or a suicide attempt
  • The emptiness you feel because of that loving relationship blown-to-bits
  • Those migraines
  • The look of horror on your face when you walk into a roomful of people
  • The extra 40 pounds you carry because of the meds
  • The feeling of total worthlessness because you lost that job
  • Those broken or cracked teeth from constant grinding
  • That embarrassing lip-smacking from years of antipsychotic use
  • The extra wrinkles on your face, and the darkness and bags under your eyes
  • That nasty cough from smoking
  • The trembling generated by your chronic anger
  • The cirrhotic liver from excessive drinking

Catch my drift?

What about your scars? Perhaps you’d share in a comment.

Okay, so now that they’ve come to the fore, I’m sure your first reaction will be to reject them as the very emblems of shame and disgrace. However, I’m challenging you to embrace them as badges of honor – all.

Fact is, you earned those scars in the heat of battle. Self-inflicted? Oh, I suppose in the most literal sense. But when it’s all said and done, I’m not thinking you really wanted to harm yourself, or anyone else.


Insight, Encouragement, and Hope

As long as we’re on the subject of suffering and scars, I’d like to offer some insight, encouragement, and hope.

20th century psychotheorist Dr. Viktor Frankl is one of my heroes. Being a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, this is someone who intimately knows suffering. Who better to teach us a thing or two? Some of his wisdom from his book Man’s Search for Meaning

If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life.

In accepting this challenge to suffer bravely, life has a meaning up to the last moment, and it retains this meaning literally to the end. In other words, life’s meaning is an unconditional one, for it even includes the potential meaning of unavoidable suffering.

Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decided whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not.

It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.

And there’s this from a Frankl favorite, 19th century Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky

There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.

Hmmm, so those sufferings and scars of yours. Fallout from bereavement, dysthymia, chronic stress, bipolar disorder, OCD, anorexia, psychosis, or another emotional/mental downer…

Nah, they aren’t failings, rather signs of a battle bravely fought – and won. I mean, (you may not be doing jumping-jacks, but) you’re reading this, right? I say you merit a badge of honor – if not several.

Come on, be proud. Step forward to be adorned.

Looking for more insight, encouragement, and hope? Tons of Chipur titles to cast your eyes upon.