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In a modern sense the word struggle is something that people seemingly try to avoid at all cost! The word itself may even make people think in negative terms. In this culture of “live for yourself; do what feels good; if it doesn’t work for you, quit,” struggle is often labeled as bad. But, when I look to scripture and in particular the new testament for examples on struggle I find that the English word "struggle" is translated from the original Greek word ἀγωνίζομαι (agónizomai) which is better translated “to contend for a prize". Often I tell my students that if the prize is easily attained then it is probably not worth much. The goals that we set which are difficult and challenging and force us to struggle towards are the more rare prizes and longer lasting. The struggle for these types of goals and prizes sometimes hurt and are always hard but are necessary if we are to achieve the more meaningful moments of success in our lives! And although we may not always enjoy struggle and we will be tempted to be free from it, we must stay disciplined and not give in to this temptation for this will surely set a pattern in our life that as it goes on longer will certainly be more difficult to reverse.

“A small but persistent discipline is a great force; for a soft drop falling persistently, hollows out hard rock.” ~ St. Isaac of Syria

Parents may also find this article helpful on understanding the benefits of our allowing our children to struggle.

I started the Wrestling With Virtue program due in large part to the fact that I feel we live in a sport obsessed culture. I also feel that the greatest benefit to participation in sports is preparation for "real life". I often have heard parents explain that they are spending thousands of dollars and countless hours making their kids specialize in a sport to gain a scholarship, "go pro", or someday to make the Olympics. It is in these most often unrealistic statements that I feel the true purpose of sports is getting lost. If we now turn the other direction and translate the English word "struggle" back into the more ancient Greek we find a word askesis which ironically or not can also be translated into the English word exercise. But, this type of exercise is not just for fun, or to be more fit, but rather a more purposeful type of exercise that builds us up to prepare us for our future. A sacrificial type of dedication where we say no to unhealthy habits and the wasting of our time, talent and treasures which we are Blessed with in an effort to strive or "struggle" to accomplish the goal of maximizing our mental, physical and spiritual potentials and finding our purpose in life.

In conclusion, lets embrace the "struggle" to our ultimate purpose in life and chase away the desire to only do what is pleasurable and easy. In this way, I believe that we can collectively make the world a better place for all by starting with one's self. Along this path of struggle we may lose or fall many times but we must get back up and continue along this path. It is the only way to learn to accept the things that we cannot control that we all must face, namely, pain, suffering and loss. These are facts of real life and cannot be avoided so we must be better prepared for when they strike. What is in our control however is to keep up the struggle no matter what. A life without struggle is a life not worth living, as it would be nothing else but a capitulation to slothfulness, sinfulness and decay. Life is a struggle, and the struggle is life. There is no way around it. We should accept it, embrace it and use it for our final benefit.

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