As some of you know, last month I started a series called Bittersweet which was derived from a book I read called Bittersweet. Clever, I know. Anyways, in the author’s chapter called “learning to swim” she talks about suffering and change and when we are in it, we sometimes can lose sight of the fact that we likely are being made new. That we have to suffer to learn, to grow to be redeemed. It is a story of sacrifice, purpose and character.
But what stood out to me the most was that she goes on to talk about how suffering made her selfish, somewhat controlling and slightly ignorant. Why me? When will this end? I don’t deserve this. What is God doing? I want to be rescued from this pain. I don’t want to wait. I want, I want, I want. Thoughts and prayers that are so self-consuming and meanwhile we believe we are the victims and crave a fast exit from the pain because we don’t deserve this. Man oh man I can relate to this.
It struck a chord with me because I have been, precisely, that person, more often than I’d like to admit. In the midst of my suffering, I can barely even think about others or the world around me because I’m so consumed with my pain, my problems and my own prayers. In fact, just a couple of short weeks ago in the midst of a yelling match with Rick (it was a rough month…we had to let it out), he made it very clear to me how selfish I had been. My initial response involved a few words I’d prefer not to reveal as to keep my blog PG-13. But as we cooled down, as I thought about what he said (or screamed, not that I am keeping track), he was right. Ugh. Not only could I not see or care for the world and people around me, I was not seeing or caring for the one person I love the most…my husband.
The point here is not that while we suffer we should be selfless. Rather, the point is while we suffer to remember that something deeper is happening. And while the narrative is about us, we need to be awakened to the world around us and what good can come of this before we reach the final chapter. We are being redeemed. We are being taught lessons of patience. We are being shaped into a wiser person.
And as the author states, “I believe that suffering is part of the narrative, and that nothing really good gets built when everything’s easy. I believe that loss and emptiness and confusion often give way to a new fullness and wisdom.”
Amen, right?! Suffering and change are inevitable. And we can choose to embrace the inevitable and embrace the pain, remembering that God is doing something bigger in us. Work that likely has to get done. That needs to get done.
This is the bittersweet lesson I am learning more and more with each mountain that I have to climb and each valley I crash in. It’s not an easy lesson, but, it’s a good one and one that I am grateful for. Embrace the change. There are good things on the other side.