The Struggle is Real is heard in conversations quite often these days…

Somewhat along the same lines of Just Living the Dream. 


Both phrases are probably way overused,


but that doesn’t stop us from hearing them a lot….

The Urban Dictionary lists two definitions for the phrase The Struggle is Real:

  1. A (generally) ironic saying often used in place of the saying, “first world problems“. It denotes a situation where the user wishes to express that they are encountering some sort of undesirable difficulty, but dealing with it. With irony, it has a comical effect of dramatizing a non-critical, yet undesirable situation.

Tom: I had to walk to class today because my bike got a flat tire.
Adam: Must’ve been real hard, man.
Tom: Yeah. The struggle is real.


Years ago I heard Louis CK share some funny thoughts about how spoiled we’ve become nowadays….

You might want to start at 1:25 to get to the best of what he offers…

The second Urban Dictionary definition says this about The Struggle is Real:

2.  Used to describe trying times or an unpleasant situation that is hard to get through.

For Example

Friend 1: I missed the bus, Have a ton of homework, and i didn’t get to eat lunch because the line was too long. 
Friend 2: The Struggle Is Real 
Friend 1: I Know!


the struggle is,

The Struggle is Real.

I feel like I understand a bit about gratitude.                                                                                           I live sincerely thankful for all I have in life.                                                                                             I feel truly blessed in a litany of ways.                                                                                                         I believe we should count our blessings and that living with an attitude of gratitude makes our life better.                                                                                                                                                    I’m a proponent of optimism.

All that said,

The Struggle is Real.

I have spent my whole adult life working in either the arenas of faith and spirituality or psychology and medicine or some combination therein.

In Pastoral ministry my life has been spent with a focus on encouraging those in their time of need. This can be as significant as the existential struggle with the personal search for meaning  or  as common as struggling with illness, economy, grief and loss or just the dailyness of life.


I believe in change.

I believe others can change- for the better.

Nonetheless, therein once again lies the struggle.

Change occurs in proportion to the effort expended to make change happen.

Nothing hard comes easy. Just try losing  a few pounds. Easy, eh?

Newton’s laws of motion come to mind. A body at rest tends to stay at rest. A body in motion tends to stay in motion. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

People can change, but change ain’t always easy.

Once again, The Struggle is Real.

Scott Peck began his seminal book The Road Less Traveled with these words:














I love this idea. I have shared these words with others for over twenty-five years.

Yet, as I share them here today, as I read them,  I have some doubts.

Yes, Life is Difficult.

This is a great Truth.

One of the greatest.

I also agree that at times yielding to the reality that life has its fair share of trials and tribulations and coming as rapidly as we can to a place of acceptance can be beneficial for us. I believe if we live long enough we will experience pain and sometimes even suffering. We need to come to terms with this reality rather than always fighting against it.


That said, I’m not as sure about the second part of Peck’s statement that once we truly understand that life is difficult, we transcend it.


I’m just not so sure.

Just the past few weeks I have experienced the following either personally or vicariously :

Close friends battling through Divorce

Economic Uncertainties

Sudden Death of a Loved One

Possible  Cancer Diagnosis

Funeral for a Friend

Employment Struggles

Testing of Faith



Mood Struggles

Job Loss

Political upheaval


False Accusations

Co-worker Crap

and Rain

So life is Difficult.

Just accept it and we’ll transcend it?

I’m not so sure.

The Struggle is Real.

Acceptance can be difficult. I have often shared, it took a while to get here, it’ll take a while to get where we’re going.

So, where do we go from here?

We persevere.

We press on.

We catch our breath.

We take deep breaths. We keep on breathing. We take the next step. We believe in a better day. We do the best we can as long as  we can. We get a good night’s sleep. We awaken to a new day. We survive the season.We do unto others as we’d have them do unto us. We love. We care. We share. We Give. We pray. We hope. We live to see another day. Hopefully a better one. For sure, we don’t give up.

Jim Valvano in one of the world’s greatest speeches implored us to never give up.

In my life as a pastor and counselor I’ve sadly experienced the pain of witnessing people giving up. I longed desperately to encourage them, to support them, to help them any way I could.

Sadly, they lost their hope and their way.

Because,  The Struggle is Real.

Life is difficult. But I still believe in the midst of the struggle we can find life.


We may have to persevere far more than we’d prefer. We may experience a disproportionate share of human suffering and tragedy. But trust me on this, we are not alone. We are but one of many fellow strugglers.

Each in our own way pressing on toward the mark.


Press on.


Don’t Give Up.


Till Tomorrow….


BD 2/22/17


2 thoughts on “Persevering -When the Struggle is Real

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