As I stated before, suffering is one of life’s greatest teachers. The subjects taught and the lessons learned are tailored to each individual student of life. No two people will arrive at suffering’s ultimate destination in the same way or through the same methods, although suffering is universal and we experience similar hardships and difficulties.
I do not want it known that I arrived at all of suffering’s lessonpoints with great glee and satisfaction. For, in truth, many times along this journey of suffering, I have gone with reluctance, impatience, and highly pissed off.
I want it known that the joy and peace that I now experience did not come overnight, nor did some bolt of lightning or earth-shattering event occur that awakened me out of some kind of sleep of apathy and dissatisfaction to propel me into a state of perpetual bliss. I struggled for days, months, and, yes, years with quite a few challenges. Suffering had much to teach me and I had plenty of fodder in my life for it to do its work within.
I have much empathy and understanding of those who do not embrace suffering, but rather kick at it with distaste and a great sense of anger. Of those who rail against its unfairness and seeming fickleness of its fate. I understand it all…for I have felt all of those things and more.
Being a Christian, I have been one who has had to suffer many things alone because people who love God are “not supposed to” feel anger or dissatisfaction or discouragement or fear or disillusionment. During periods of great confusion, I was simply told to “trust God.” At points of doubt and discouragement because of the traumas that I was enduring, I was told that “all things work together for good for them that love God.” Instead of peace, I was filled with guilt because during those times of suffering, I was often in too much pain to conjur up feelings of trust and many times I was angry at God for allowing suffering to assault me so many times that there were moments when I hid my face from him, though I never turned my back to Him.
Throughout my life, I have heard the phrase, “Everything is going to be okay.” I would sometimes grit my teeth in anger because, at the time, NOTHING was okay and I wondered if anything COULD be okay ever again. I was not angry because people were trying to comfort me. Rather, I was irritated that they seemed to skip over the fact that until things are okay, they are not and one needs comfort in those dark periods. Because they often do not have the strength or the will to wait until okay comes. Because, sometimes, the space in between “going to be okay” and “okay” is a hell of a long time and the space is often cold and dark. I have spent my life sitting in that dark place in between others’ “okays,” holding their hand and bringing some light and encouragement.
Suffering hurts. There is no doubt about it. But there is also no doubt that it produces champions, sets captives free, and teaches one how to live a rich and a full life.
As I write this blog and my book, I am going to present the many faces of suffering. I’m not going to do it Pollyanna-style, however. I am going to be real with my feelings, the lessons learned, and the often painful and challenging ways that suffering chose to teach me its truths.
I am aware that many do not want to hear that suffering has meaning and I am very well aware of why that is and indeed have shared (and still share) some of those reasons. But I am also a survivor and now live a very happy and peaceful life and it was all due to the things that I have suffered. I will spend the rest of my life showing to others what suffering has meant to me…and one day…others will add their voices to mine and we will all sit around laughing our heads off because we now know that what does not kill us really does make us stronger.