Dear Friend, are you suffering right now? Whether it’s your health, marriage, finances, work, or children, suffering is a painful part of life. And, prolonged suffering can certainly take a toll on our relationships and ourselves. If you are suffering right now, please know that you are not alone. Read this beautiful post by my friend and guest blogger, Jacqueline Spang.
Let me first start by making a few things clear: I am no expert on suffering. All suffering is relative, and mine when held up next to real suffering (like the loss of a child, the loss of a spouse, war, terror, ISIS, genocide, Natzi concentration camps, etcetera) is nothing. Yet, it is something, otherwise I wouldn’t cry about it; wouldn’t struggle or grapple with it.
I know few people, if any, that are so complacent in life that they roll over and accept things just as they are. We have a drive, a will, to want better for ourselves, our children, our loved ones, and perhaps even those beyond our immediate sphere.
We need our lives to have meaning in some form or another. That’s why we work, why we love, why we keep living. Our bodies are a great blessing- a tool given to us by God that allow us to put our will, our dreams, and our meaning into action. They allow us to work, play, love, and experience life. And it’s incredibly frustrating when your body just won’t cooperate- when your heart and your mind want to experience life, participate in meaningful things, work, and move, and your body just simply says, “No. Not today. Not tomorrow either.” It’s a special kind of loss when you feel defeated by your own limbs- when you’re doing everything in your power to be healthy and your organs and nervous system continue to defy your best efforts. This is my particular suffering. I’m sure you have your own.
I kept telling myself (and everyone else) that I trusted God. I kept telling God that I was surrendered to His Will; that if this is what He wants right now then that’s what I want too. And then one day I realized this: I didn’t and I wasn’t. I didn’t really trust Him; I wasn’t really surrendered. Because after months of taking my meds, getting adequate rest, and eating my greens I wasn’t any better, and I cried about it. And when I realized that I hadn’t been on a real date with my husband or gotten “all dolled up” for him since February, I cried. And when my disability claim was denied and I realized I wouldn’t be able to return to work any time soon, I was filled with anxiety. And when the activities of my days continued to be limited to showering, eating, and sleeping, I felt purposeless… and I cried. (I cry a lot. Someone once told me it’s good for you because it’s like throwing up for your soul… gets the junk out)
So I kept trying. If I just willed myself to be better, I’d get better. “Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. Maybe I’m not mentally strong enough. Maybe I’m just being a baby”. And then I realized that surrender is not the same as giving up. Giving up means that you’ve lost hope. It means you’ve stopped trying; you don’t care; it doesn’t matter. Surrender is an acceptance of reality; of what is. Surrender is an inner peace that says “I will do my best, and whatever comes out of that- I accept it. And when it get’s better or when things change, I’ll move and act and live accordingly.” A person who has given up will say, “I’m not trying to get out of bed today.” A person who is surrendered will say, “I will try to get out of bed today, and if I can’t, then I will stay in bed. And that’s ok. And I’ll try to get out of bed again tomorrow.”Jesus was the best example of surrender. He accepted what God the Father gave him, for better or for worse. He did His very best during his short 33 years on earth and left the outcome in God’s hands. He surrendered and He trusted. “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” My grandmother, Memere T, is another great example of this, “Oh honey, just do your best and give God the rest!”. So is my husband. My peaceful, trusting, “babe, everything’s going to be fine”, faithful husband. God bless his soul.
Mother Teresa was another beautiful example of surrender. In one of her books she writes that she never worried because she only wanted what God wanted and her life was His. So if tomorrow she found herself homeless on the street, that would clearly be where God wanted her, so she’d be ok with it. And if the next day she found herself very rich, then that was what God wanted, so she’d accept it. She was indifferent to the details of her life. Rich, poor, famous, unknown, successful, a failure- none of it mattered. She only desired to love God and serve Him, in whatever capacity He allowed her to do that. That is where her peace came from.
That is why Jesus commanded us not to worry and to love God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul, and all our strength. Because when we do that, the world and our circumstances can’t disturb us. And then we are filled with peace, and that peace brings joy, and that joy produces love, and then we are truly happy. So, if God wants me in bed I’ll stay in bed, and I’ll make the best of it. And when He wants me out of bed, that’s where you’ll find me. And if you’re doing your very best, try to accept whatever you are and wherever you are. Fight the temptation to wish your life was different- that you had a different house, spouse, more children, less children, better job, no job, more jobs, etc. Surrender to what is, and let “the peace that surpasses all understanding” fill your heart.
About the Author: About the Guest Blogger: Jacqueline Spang is a wife, mother, entrepreneur, Lyme Disease warrior, and advocate for the chronically ill. You can contact her and follow her spiritual journey on her blog, 4 the Narrow Road, and her health and wellness advocacy on her Facebook Page..