Sunrise in Southern Utah

Virtue in the struggle

Virtue in the struggle

The last several months have been hard for a lot of people!

Including me… A couple months ago in a moment of self-pity, and self-humoring I guess, I wrote in my journal:

I’m 32, single, living with my parents, have chronic neck and back pain, and I’m trying to figure out my career.

There’s a lot of context behind that (you can skip it if you’d like)…

  • I lived with my parents for 2 months during quarantine (and I’m grateful for that time actually)
  • I still haven’t recovered from a car accident 1.5 years ago
  • My work team will have some upcoming changes out of my control, increasing the urgency for me to figure out my next career steps.
  • No context needed for the age and relationship status… unfortunately I think both are equally elusive to me!
zach, taking off a hood
Even in context, the combination of those factors weighed on me.

They did and still do.

I’ve felt depressed and anxious. It’s been harder to focus and easier to ruminate. Optimism and hope have not been natural. And I’ve done some out-of-character things to cope… stayed up all night playing video games, procrastinated tasks while surfing the internet, mindlessly scrolling social media and finding myself objectifying people.


Of necessity, I learned that there is virtue in struggle.

I guess for the sake of my own ego, to keep myself from falling apart, I choose to believe my struggles have some worth, some redeeming virtue.

Because my struggle means I’m still trying.

Many others have said similar things before and more eloquently than me, such as Jeffrey R. Holland:

When there was a controversy in the early Church regarding who was entitled to heaven’s blessings and who wasn’t, the Lord declared to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Verily I say unto you, [the gifts of God] are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep … my commandments, and [for them] that seeketh so to do.” Boy, aren’t we all thankful for that added provision “and … seeketh so to do”! Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You

God’s blesses those who seek to love Him and keep His commandments.

We’re blessed for wanting and trying to be good :)

Life is more about losing and continuing to try than it is about winning.

We all lose frequently in life… sometimes in common ways and sometimes in unique ways.

Successful and virtuous is the woman or man who still struggles. Because it means they haven’t given in. Inherent to “struggle” is effort… seeking… trying.

I hope I fall in that category… even after all of my “failures” of unhealthy coping mentioned above, I’m still trying.

I think the same can be said of many who cope via pornography, smoking, binging whatever, isolating, cutting, yelling, and many more things.

In the end…

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

Mary Anne Radmacher
Zach in front of bride in Ronda, Spain
In praise of those who struggle.

So let’s not point and laugh at those who struggle. Especially when the one struggling is ourselves.

Maybe rather let’s praise and cheer them on. Offer a helping hand when we can, remembering that there’s no difference in our standing before God…

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

I’m reminded also of Leo Tolstoy’s depiction of a priest who responded to a congregant’s criticism of his seemingly hypocritical choices:

“Look at my life now and compare it to my former life. You will see that I am trying to live out the truth I proclaim…

“Attack me, [if you wish,] I do this myself, but [don’t] attack … the path I follow. … If I know the way home [but] am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way simply because I am staggering from side to side?

“… Do not gleefully shout, ‘Look at him! … There he is crawling into a bog!’ No, do not gloat, but give … your help [to anyone trying to walk the road back to God.]”

The New Way (quoted in Be Ye Therefore Perfect, Eventually)

To answer the priest’s question — no, the path is not any less the right way when we struggle.

So let’s keep trying. Let’s be patient with ourselves and others. And let’s remain optimistic about the path we’re on independent of our own or others’ weaknesses.

Let’s remember that there is virtue in the struggle (That’s been my HWN recently).

p.s. A lot of updates since my last post…

I drove back to Utah after two months at home! Visited my brother and his family in Las Vegas and a friend in St. George.

hiking pictures at Mt. Charleston and St. George

My mom had a double mastectomy because of breast cancer, and I drove back again to visit and help out with my sisters :)

I agreed to canoe across the Great Salt Lake with Paul! (Left our home at 5:30 AM, lots of driving around to drop of vehicles in the right spots, 7 hours 10 minutes of canoeing, dinner and lots more driving, got back home at 11:30 at night!)

I visited Bryce Canyon with friends and ran a 5K :) (Check out the whole photo album here).

And lastly, I woke up to find both of my tires flat two Sundays ago. There were knife-size gashes in each, so sadly it appears it was intentional by someone :/ (no idea who or why?)

I visited the Salt Lake Zoo for the first time on Pioneer Day :)

Zach and friends at Salt Lake Zoo

6 thoughts on “Virtue in the struggle

  1. Thanks for sharing and especially for the update. I’m a breast cancer survivor also and will pray for totally recovery for your mom as well. God bless you and your family.

  2. Thanks for sharing this Zach! It reminded me of a couple of quotes that I thought worth sharing here:
    “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness — they have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means — the only complete realist.”
    C.S. Lewis

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
    Theodore Roosevelt

    1. Thank you for sharing these two quotes Russell! I really like them both, and I like both of the people who said them. Very applicable and powerful!

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