“Can we drink of the cup of suffering when it comes? How will we react to a season of wilderness, isolation, pain, and suffering?” -Chasing Life: Lessons on Suffering Well (P38)
I think by now, everyone who knows me and is familiar with my journey with suffering, knows well that pain and grief are pretty much long-stay friends of mine. Nevertheless, I have become bold and have found the strength to talk about my sufferings freely and openly because I have found purpose in my beautiful mess—one that constantly reminds me that I am not the only sufferer in this world, and that others need as much encouragement as I do from time to time.
Today, I was reminiscing about happier days during my younger years, when I had no concern about sickness, lack of energy, fear of the unknown, and lack of control. When you are young you think the whole world bows before you, and serves you a well-deserved dose of happiness, excitement, and adventure. These days, my way of viewing my life-journey has changed dramatically. I suppose in light of the recent pandemic, we can all say that our “normal” is a thing of the past. So much has changed, right?
In the midst of all that is going in our lives, I would like to offer a word of encouragement to us: Life has always been hard. It did not just get difficult now. Some struggles were just not as public then as they are now. Have you noticed? Suicide is at an all-time high. Anger and lack of patience have been highlighted in the most horrific of ways. Unfairness, racial tension, marital problems, family fights and arguments, bullying, pride, violence, gluttony, lack of self-control, etc., etc., etc. (the list is long)
The thing is that most people wait for something big, striking or amazing to happen so they will then change their ways. Michael Jackson had a good thought on this when he wrote, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking can he change his ways?” And that’s where the solution lies to much of our unrest. When we decide to be the change, then things around us will change. I am not saying things are the way they are because we caused it, but we can be a catalyst for change. What if instead of ranting about politics, religion, and hatred on social media, we become agents of peace? What if we smile more while practicing kindness to EVERYONE around us?
In the book of Proverbs, the King writes, “It takes a hard experience to make a man change his ways.” (Proverbs 20:30) I have experienced that very thing in my own life. It has been a hard road to change my views on many things; to become humbler and less judgmental; to offer peace, rather than turmoil and despair; to observe more intently and listen deeply and attentively; to serve regardless of what I have or do not have to offer. It is amazing what we can learn from our suffering! But we have to be willing to soften our hearts and welcome even the hard lessons. Above all, we have to be willing to change…
“I hope these hard times make me better and not just older…” (excerpt from the song, “When This Is Over” by Jon Nite, Laura Veltz, and Zach Kale).