I often share things I come across in my reading, and see on other people’s blogs that I find noteworthy and that touch me. It’s one way in which I share my heart, and what I feel that the Lord is revealing to me. Now for confession time. Sometimes I share what others do because I have a hard time sharing me. It’s hard to look at myself honestly, to see myself in the light of truth; so often because what I see looking back at me I don’t like. After 49 years, you’d think I’d be more comfortable with who I am, but I still struggle with looking at that person in the mirror and liking what I see there. It’s always been far easier for me to love other people than it has been to love myself. I can give to other people, but allowing other people to give to me is terribly hard.
It’s a hard thing to admit. Can I tell you it’s hard for me to imagine that anyone could love me, even God, and I have a hard time dealing with it. Allowing myself to receive love has been a life-long process. I tend to try to hide in plain sight. One thing I’ve learned over the years is if you try to hide by hiding someone always finds you, but if you just stand in the middle of the room and smile more often than not people do seldom more than show a polite interest in you then leave you alone. From that I’ve learned something else. You can never really tell who’s suffering. You can tell when someone is in physical pain, but you can’t always see suffering.
Having experienced both, I can say that the physical pain is often easier to bear, and easier to deal with in some ways. You can take drugs legal and otherwise to lessen pain-the physical kind anyway-but suffering isn’t always that easy to alleviate. It might help to just go ahead and define “suffering” for the sake of this writing as in the emotional sense because that’s what I’m talking about. Emotional pain. In this regard, I know I’m just one of many, and in a lot of ways I don’t feel that my, quote “suffering” in any way compares to that of some other people I’ve seen and known. Not that we’re comparing because in truth “suffering” is “suffering” no matter who does it, or what the cause of it may be. I’ve known people who make a game of it. Who try to manipulate it, and use it for their own gain, but nobody has a monopoly on it, and those who think they do often don’t even really know the first thing about it. If you’ve ever heard the term, “suffering in silence” you know it didn’t come about from talking about it.
It’s a fact that no one of us ever escapes this life unscathed. We all have our scars. The worst ones are the ones nobody sees, and often they hurt the worst. Often the people who carry such scars are the ones we don’t see. It’s not the drunk, the drug addict, the welfare recipient, that are the ones truly carrying the invisible scars-though they may be-but rather it’s the middle or high school student found hanging or over-dosed that nobody saw coming, the young wife and mother found lying in her bed with a bottle of pills beside her, or the senior husband in the smoke-filled car. Too often it’s the ones we didn’t see coming that suffered the most.
It says something about our world and the people that live in it that we’re so quick to judge them. You and I have both heard the varied explanations and terms used in referring to those who have chosen to end their suffering themselves, and maybe even used those explanations and terms ourselves. How callous and ignorant are we to think that they’re condemned for all eternity because of a bad decision. It’s that kind of thinking and response on the part of people that gave rise to “suffering in silence” in the first place.
Some of us have had the misfortune of having some really bad, ugly, awful things happen to us in our lives, and we’ve suffered because of them, but there’s a truth that most of us don’t realize, and spend the better part of our lives trying to ignore, and it’s the fact that this is a world of suffering. None of us escape it, are immune from it, and the harsh reality is that we’ve all taken our turn at the wheel at both ends of the car.
I’ve said all the above to say this, that there is an answer to suffering, but it lies in understanding what suffering is and it’s role in the world we live in. We spend our lives listening to a world that says that there is no sense, no rhyme or reason, to why there’s suffering. That there can be no God or a God not worth loving and serving who allows suffering. Nothing is more untrue and false than this, and is the ultimate deception of the devil. Who of us, myself, included, would be who I am, and who I am, becoming without having suffered? To feel unloved, to experience pain, to doubt oneself, to question one’s role and relationship to the world and the people in one’s life, are these not all experiences that set us in search of truth, of love? And if we take our search seriously, if we look for it with all our hearts, is there any doubt to it’s destination. We don’t travel the path of life (and suffer along the way) to come to a what….but rather to who…. You can take it from here….