Archive for the ‘Trials’ Category

Facing the Wind

Monday, April 24th, 2017

“We are meant to live in joy,” the Archbishop explained. “This does not mean that life will be easy or painless. It means that we can turn our faces to the wind and accept that this is the storm we must pass through. We cannot succeed by denying what exists. The acceptance of reality is the only place from which change can begin.” The Archbishop had said that when one grows in the spiritual life, “You are able to accept anything that happens to you.” You accept the inevitable frustrations and hardships as part of the warp and woof of life. That question, he had said, is not: How do we escape it? The question is: How can we use this as something positive?

— Archbishop Desmond Tutu, quoted by Douglas Abrams in The Book of Joy, p. 224

Deepest Wounds

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

Maybe you can live a full and beautiful life in spite of the great and terrible moments that will happen right inside of you. Actually — maybe you get to become more abundant because of those moments. Maybe — I don’t know how, but somehow? — maybe our hearts are made to be broken. Broken open. Broken free. Maybe the deepest wounds birth deepest wisdom.

— Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, p. 24

Gifts Outweigh the Trials

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

How strange and vibrant and astounding is this gift of life! So what if it’s hard? So what if we’re hounded by troubles, pressured and embattled on all sides? So many good gifts outweigh the trials. Thank God that we encounter some resistance to our cavalier passage through this world. Thank God He has designed life not to be easy but to test us to the limit and so turn lazy ingrates into children of God who are strong and fearless and full of love.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 48

Happy People and Pain

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Happy people have just as much pain as anyone else, in some cases more. It could even be argued that the happy feel pain more acutely than the unhappy, whose feelings are relatively numb. The real difference in happy people is that they’re not trapped by their pain. Rather than settling inside a happy soul, pain moves through it as through a channel, and that channel is joy. Joy keeps pain moving.

Happiness, rather than indicating an absence of pain, denotes a certain efficiency of processing life’s problems. Happy people don’t stay stuck for long; their lives are too rich for that. Greater happiness empowers them to take on more challenges, and moving through challenges makes them happier still.

Joy knows it’s on the winning side. That’s why it can rejoice even in the midst of suffering. If any of life’s horrors were permanent or unconquerable, joy would be impossible. Yet how easily we’re cowed into a defeatist attitude. It doesn’t take a major calamity to get us down; a petty annoyance will do nicely. A day, an entire week, indeed a lifetime, can be spoiled by a series of light and momentary troubles. While one believer praises God in the midst of terminal illness, another grumbles because of a runny nose. What’s the difference between these two lives? Attitude.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 41-42.

Maturity and Affliction

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Yes, our maturity certainly involves doing the things Jesus did. Healing and all. But that maturity also involves becoming like him in the transformation of our character. It involves holiness — loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. Being willing to suffer the loss of everything for him. Choosing him in the midst of suffering. Which is to say, having within us the character of Jesus. And how does God shape our character? We hate the answer, but we know it to be true: affliction.

— John Eldredge, Moving Mountains, p. 224

Accepting Reality

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

But what happens when life presents you with unavoidable or overwhelming suffering? This is where the example of the Jesuit approach to obedience may be helpful. What enables a Jesuit to accept difficult decisions by his superior is the same thing that can help you: the realization that this is what God is inviting you to experience at this moment. It is the understanding that somehow God is with you, at work and revealed in a new way in this experience.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying that God wills suffering or pain. Nor that any of us will ever fully understand the mystery of suffering. Nor that you need to look at every difficulty as God’s will. Some suffering should be avoided, lessened, or combated: treatable illnesses, abusive marriages, unhealthy work situations, dysfunctional sexual relationships.

Nonetheless, Ciszek understood that God invites us to accept the inescapable realities placed in front of us. We can either turn away from that acceptance of life and continue on our own, or we can plunge into the “reality of the situation” and try to find God there in new ways. Obedience in this case means accepting reality.

— James Martin, S. J., The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, p. 282-283.

Transformation

Friday, July 1st, 2016

I used to see a butterfly in my mind’s eye every time I heard the word transformation, but life has schooled me. Transformation isn’t a butterfly. It’s the thing before you get to be a pretty bug flying away. It’s huddling in the dark cocoon and then pushing your way out. It’s the messy work of making sense of your fortunes and misfortunes, desires and doubts, hang-ups and sorrows, actions and accidents, mistakes and successes, so you can go on and become the person you must next become.

— Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough, p. 134

Wisdom and Suffering

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Wisdom does not come from suffering. Wisdom comes from learning the lesson that heals the suffering.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 61

It’s Your Journey, But You’re Not Alone

Friday, February 12th, 2016

This journey belongs to no one but you; however, no one successfully goes it alone. Since the beginning of time, people have found a way to rise after falling, yet there is no well-worn path leading the way. All of us must make our own way, exploring some of the most universally shared experiences while also navigating a solitude that makes us feel as if we are the first to set foot in uncharted regions. And to add to the complexity, in lieu of the sense of safety to be found in a well-traveled path or a constant companion, we must learn to depend for brief moments on fellow travelers for sanctuary, support, and an occasional willingness to walk side by side. For those of us who fear being alone, coping with the solitude inherent in this process is a daunting challenge. For those of us who prefer to cordon ourselves off from the world and heal alone, the requirement for connection — of asking for and receiving help — becomes the challenge.

— BrenĂ© Brown, Rising Strong, p. 6

We’re Going to Fall.

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall; this is the physics of vulnerability. When we commit to showing up and risking falling, we are actually committing to falling. Daring is not saying, “I’m willing to risk failure.” Daring is saying, “I know I will eventually fail and I’m still all in.” Fortune may favor the bold, but so does failure.

— Brene Brown, Rising Strong, p. 5