On Suffering

17 Jun

“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches.  If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers.  To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.”
~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

We might be described as “flinchers”.  We flinch from all sorts of things, especially things that hurt us.  The old expression “Once burned, twice shy” embodies that thought.  Once we burn ourselves on a hot stove, we will do everything necessary to stay away from that source of pain.

No one wants to suffer; however, some people “suffer better” than others.  What I mean by that is that some people who suffer acquire a whole new attitude in their lives.  Because of what they went through, and adding some of the things listed above — mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable — they gained new insights into themselves and the world in which they live.

If you think about today’s quote and about the person who wrote it, everything comes into focus.  Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of Charles Lindbergh.  Their lives were, by many standards, ideal.  They were both aviators and they both were living life to the fullest.  At an early point in their marriage, their young child was taken from their home and a body of a child presumed to be theirs was found a few months later.

In that kind of suffering, many people give up.  Yet Charles and Anne would continue living their lives and doing all that they could to shape their world.  Anne became an author and poet and poured her thoughts and feelings about a whole range of experiences into her work.

We can let the world affect us for ill or for good.  When pain and suffering comes our way, we can shut down so that no more pain and suffering touches us again.  Doing so, however, merely causes us to bottle up that pain and to relive it day in and day out.  Or, we can note how that suffering has marked us and do all that we can to work through it.  If we choose that path, we quickly find that there are many others around us willing to help; some, materially, and some, by sharing their experiences and how they went through their own pain and suffering.

If pain and suffering comes your way, do all that you can to go through it.  Find the help that you need and become an inspiration to others.  No one should have to suffer alone.  Everyone should be able to learn through suffering and become stronger for whatever it was they experienced.

FAITH ACTION:  Pray for all those who suffer emotionally, physically, or spiritually, that they may receive all that they need to endure their suffering and to grow through it.