A Bit on Suffering
Today was a pretty good day. I finished six loads of laundry, started a new exercise program, had lunch with a friend I am trying to get back to the Catholic Church and found out one of our Glory Run sponsors is going to double his sponsorship this year. Wow!
And then there was a span of two hours that were pure torture.
I have been struggling with something for a long time. It's been so long I can't put a finger on when it began. It is not an occasional hard thing. No, this one is actual suffering...of the long-term variety.
I have been able to deal with it up to this point because I have talked myself into thinking, "This too shall pass," except it hasn't. It is not a weekly suffering or even daily hardship. It is an almost every moment of every single day have to deal with it kind of thing. It is not passing. It is sticking and becoming stickier all the time.
Today something happened which slapped me in the face with the fact that this suffering may not pass. This one, well, it might be here for the long haul. I guess it was more than a slap in the face.
It was a punch in the gut and it took - my - breath - away.
There was a moment at the end of those two hours when I lost all the hope I had been clinging to. The light at the end of the tunnel went out and darkness surrounded me.
Apparently, I do not suffer well.
When the light went out, the doubt crept in. How can I live like this? Is this what my life is going to look like from now on? Will this never change? What am I going to do? How can I ever fix this?
Then, right before the tears came, I fell to my knees and prayed. It was short. I was in a room by myself. I don't know if I even prayed words. All I did was get before God.
Here's a funny thing to say - sometimes I wish my faith were a little weaker.
Goodness knows I don't mean that at all, but sometimes...I feel that. If that were the case, if my faith were smaller, I could get mad at God. I could wallow in my fear and doubt and hopelessness. Somehow, I think that would make me feel better.
But that's not the case for me. In fact, I told my friend that at lunch today. "I have no excuse not to love my faith. I have no reason to doubt. I've been given way too many gifts for that," were the words that came out in my invitation for this person to come back to the faith.
Except they were much more than words. They are my heart and soul.
And so, before I could wallow in my woe is me way, I almost involuntarily fell to my knees instead. You know what happened? That feeling left me...immediately.
"Why?" you might ask. Nothing about my situation changed. The suffering had not been removed. There was no lightning or burning bush or words written on the wall (although, Lord, I've kind of been waiting my whole life for the writing on the wall thing, so if You see fit to do that in this situation, I would be very, VERY grateful). Instead there was peace.
Peace because I know God loves me. I know He won't ever give me more than I can handle. I know He has a reason for everything. I know that at the very moment He wishes to, He can change all of this and take this suffering away.
That, ladies and gentlemen is why He is God and I am not. If I were God, I would give myself a very easy life and end up and very wimpy believer. Wouldn't you do the same? Seriously, I'd like to see a show of hands for every one who wishes suffering upon themselves.
Cue crickets chirping.
I'd like to think I'd be willing to die for my faith but if given the option, I'll choose dying peacefully in my sleep right after going to confession, mass and saying the Rosary thank you very much.
Suffering is not fun. I'm guessing dying on the Cross wasn't either, but look what that did. I am a big believer in redemptive suffering. I believe there is a purpose for suffering and if handled in the right way, it can do so much more for so many.
It is, after all, the season of Lent...and Lent, well, that's about suffering and sacrifice.
But you know what follows Lent?