Love and Suffering

In the practical order of life, if we have never loved deeply or suffered deeply, we are unable to understand spiritual things at any depth. Any healthy and “true” religion is teaching you how to deal with suffering and how to deal with love. And if you allow this process with sincerity, you will soon recognize that it is actually love and suffering that are dealing with you. Like nothing else can! Even God has to use love and suffering to teach you all the lessons that really matter. They are his primary tools for human transformation.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 207

Photo: Dunluce Castle, Ireland, July 2001

Rejection Is Protection

I saw such sorrow on a friend’s face today, Lord. Something did not work out the way she had hoped. There was once a time when I would have prayed for her to get the position she was aiming for. When I think of that now, how I used to pray, I wince in my soul. It took me years — and maybe lifetimes — to understand my folly. Thinking that I know what is best for someone, and that You require my guidance — my intervention — to direct another person’s life! I often replay the dream I had years ago, at the time I felt the doors had suddenly closed on the career I had chosen. I had been lamenting not getting my way. I was feeling sorry for myself, rejected by something I wanted, and abandoned by heaven, so to speak. I was not in good shape. But in a dream visitation I was informed that “earthly rejection is holy protection.” I woke up calm. Tranquil, as if I had slept under a blanket of grace. I have never doubted again — not once. When I released my unmet expectations to You, You led me down a path I did not see coming. One I could not have imagined because I never knew it existed.

— Caroline Myss, Intimate Conversations with the Divine, p. 118

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 27, 2021

A Priceless Experience

It seems we acquire the most strength and wisdom
at those points in our lives that are the most difficult.
Later on, we think back on those difficult times,
on what we learned from them
and how we came through them.
Then we realize that they have been
a priceless experience for us.

— Haemin Sunim, Love for Imperfect Things, p. 161

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 7, 2020

Transformation Through Suffering

The supreme irony of life is that this voice of Christ works through — and alongside of — what always seems like unwholeness and untruth! God insists on incorporating the seeming negative. There is no doubt that God allows suffering. In fact, God seems to send us on the path toward our own wholeness not by eliminating the obstacles, but by making use of them. Most of the novels, operas, and poems ever written seem to have this same message in one way or another, yet it still comes as a shock and a disappointment when we experience it in our own little lives. But apart from love and suffering, both of which are always underserved, I see no other way that humans would recalibrate, reset, or change course. Why would we?

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 83-84

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 10, 2020

Making Up Stories

In the absence of data, we will always make up stories. It’s how we are wired. Meaning making is in our biology, and when we’re in struggle, our default is often to come up with a story that makes sense of what’s happening and gives our brain information on how best to self-protect. And it happens a hundred times a day at work. Our organizations are littered with stories that people make up because they don’t have access to information.

— Brené Brown, Dare to Lead, p. 258

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 26, 2016

Rejoice Always

If you’re unhappy now, don’t fret or feel guilty about it. Guilt and worry only perpetuate misery. Instead, be happy. Change your mind about the outrageous impracticality of this advice. If the Bible says “Rejoice always,” there must be something to it.

But you object: “I can’t be happy, because I’m sick,” or “I can’t be happy because my husband left me,” or “I can’t be happy, because I’m sad.” Don’t you understand? Happiness is the very weapon you need to surmount all these conditions. Happiness doesn’t come to those who sit around waiting until life gets better. Happiness comes to those who grab hold of its proffered hand in order to rise up and conquer their struggles.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 130

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 22, 2015

Liberation Time

And yet, there is a resurrection that comes with loss. People can no longer see in us the person they saw before, true. But that is one of the gifts of loss. Loss frees us to begin again, to be seen differently, to tap into something inside of ourselves that even we were never really sure was there. But, whether we knew it or not, did badly want.

We can now — perhaps must now — be ourselves but in some very different ways. We don’t have to go on making a success of the family business. Or even being Mrs. Anybody. Or being called upon so often for the same things in life that we never get to show the world that we can do other things, as well. No doubt about it: Loss is liberation time.

Then we must begin even to know ourselves differently — as more than the mother or the son, the doorman or the doctor or the groundskeeper or the mail carrier. Now we have to dig deep inside us to find out what other parts of ourselves are waiting to be discovered.

— Joan Chittister, Between the Dark and the Daylight, p. 103-104

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 12, 2019

Pouting

If we think it unreasonable to expect ourselves to rejoice in suffering, try looking at the other side: Isn’t it unreasonable not to rejoice? Taking into account God’s great love and faithfulness, and the promise of our eternal reward in heaven, isn’t a joyless attitude like a small child’s tantrum? Feeling powerless, we either shut down or throw a fit as the only means of retaliating against the one who does hold power.

Unhappiness is a form of pouting. It’s a way of saying, “I shouldn’t suffer like this; it’s scandalous; I don’t deserve it and I won’t accept it.” Fine. Your unhappiness will continue until you do accept it. You’d rather be right than happy.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 112

Photo: San Pedro, California, January 2, 2004