A Student of Suffering
On Tuesday afternoon I ran into a store to pick up a snack to woof down on the way to a presentation. I hadn’t had time for lunch and I needed something on my stomach to make it through the two hour law enforcement training seminar I was taking part in. As I perused the snack aisle I felt someone tap me on the shoulder and turned around to see a friend who has recently been going through a season of suffering. She told me she was doing okay and trying to make the best out of a difficult situation. I listened and was able to share part of my journey these last eighteen months.
I’ve been discussing with another friend the quote from #ThomasMerton above. Here is some of what I wrote to him this week;
“I think longing for perfection leaves no room for the gift of acceptance of the myriad of things of which we have no control. For life to be our definition, version, of perfection is to not suffer. But some of our greatest lessons are found in suffering. We learn to treat others in the way we were not treated, to speak words of encouragement instead of insult, listen not condemn,
understand not assume, embrace not push away, give not take, be lowly not arrogant, the servant not the master. Grace, humility, surrender to the truth of our powerlessness is only found in suffering.”
Suffering is a needed and necessary, albeit unwanted, part of our journey. To resist suffering, to try and control, force, manipulate, coerce, make the world and others in our image doesn’t eliminate suffering but intensifies it.
The lust for perfection comes from our ego. Suffering, if we allow it, can purge our sense of self-importance and replace it with a sense of peace and purpose in the midst of hardships and heartaches.