Check minute 3:20 when Biggie describes the real struggle of pain and prosperity. There’s this idea of jealousy and envy and having to look over your shoulder when you come into a prosperous place. That is some burden to bear if something that is supposed to contribute to a better life become a source of pain. The title of the song itself puts it pretty bluntly, Mo Money Mo Problems. The hook in the song says, “I don’t know what, they want from me. It’s like the more money we come across. The more problems we see.” The layered lyrics of this now classic hip hop song from back in the day reflects the battle between pain and prosperity. Who is supposed to prosper? Are Wall Street CEOs who make millions of dollars off the backs of those they employ only to downsize and amass for themselves larger salaries to prosper? The congressmen and senators who take bribes under the table but claim to speak for their constituency? Every magazine cover has celebrities who have made millions at the box office but behind closed doors are stories of pain and inner turmoil. Who would have thought that an actor who made us laugh, cry, laugh, think, wonder, and laugh again would take his life? From the outside looking in it would appear that Robin Williams had the prosperity, but he also suffered in silent pain. Pain and prosperity are siblings with a long held rivalry that goes back to the Garden of Eden.
Prosperity rested in the tree of knowledge of good and evil while Pain lingered in restless state until a choice was made and Pain came into the family picture so that Prosperity which was once within easy reach now became something that required work and effort. The question is can we have prosperity without pain? Pain and prosperity appear to be a package deal; you can’t have one without the other. The struggle is real when you are grinding every day and doing what you have to do to not only survive but to succeed but see those who make little or no effort prosper. Or maybe you are prospering yet dealing with what feels like an insurmountable pain. Even pain like cancer can go into remission leaving you with prosperity and even if both arrive at your door at the same time you have the following strategies: 1. Acknowledge the source, 2. Be a good steward and 3. Be joyful. When you acknowledge the pain and identify its source, you know how to address and heal the pain. When you acknowledge the source of your prosperity with something as a simple thank you, you unlock the door and open the window for more to release to you. A good steward is one who manages well the resources that have been entrusted to their care. Whether you have one thin dime to your name or a portfolio of massive stock options, being a good steward enables you to not only be content but to also know how to act when blessed with more without getting all stank and brand new. Joy is contagious and when it resides with you and in you all that is around you will either align with your joy, chill or find itself another hangout. While the struggle between pain and prosperity may be a real one, your overcoming success is revealed in responding with acknowledgment, good stewardship and being joyful.
Monica Leak is a speech language pathologist with the Charles County Public Schools in Maryland. She holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). She has worked as a speech language pathologist for over ten years and within this position has been involved in research, conference planning and grant writing, and program development on state and regional levels. Actively involved in the community, she is mentor with Community Lodgings, a transitional residential facility in Alexandria, Virginia and volunteers with Health Partners in Charles County, Maryland.
She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Appalachian State University in the area of Communication Disorders and a Master of Arts degree from South Carolina State University in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology. She holds a Master’s of Library Science from North Carolina Central University. She is currently working on her Master’s of Divinity degree at John Leland Center for Theological Studies in Arlington, VA. She currently serves as an associate minister and Church school teacher First Baptist Church Vienna in Vienna, Virginia.