Connection Eclipses Suffering

As a spiritual director, people share with me how they are suffering and have suffered.  Suffering seems like a promise of living fully.  In the book of Job, we read that as the sparks from a fire fly upwards, so we humans will suffer at some time during our life’s journey.

My own life’s journey has had more than a bit of suffering.  I have suffered physically, emotionally, cognitively, and even spiritually.  At 23, I was run over by a speedboat.  At 28, I divorced a physically abusive man.  In my thirties, a very deep fear was lived out.  Sadly, I pitched a tent in the deeply dark valleys of depression, physical pain, and isolation.  Yet in those valleys, I found a God to whom I belong and who loves me as I am.

How about you?  What are your top three losses?  Where have you suffered?  What broke you?  What nearly killed you?  What left you outside a circle to which you longed to belong?  What made you sick at heart, sick in body, or sick to the stomach?  What separated you from love?  From yourself?  From belonging?

So, why I am writing this?  Because someone I respect used the word ALWAYS.

Dr. Brene Brown, in The Gift of Imperfection, says that there are other causes for suffering, but the lack of love and belonging (love and belonging are always together, you don’t have one without the other) will always lead to suffering.  I am an English major.  My honor’s undergraduate project was writing creative non-fiction.  I am rather attuned to the use of words to convey a message.  So when a Ph.D. uses words that should not be used, I pause.  What?  She used an absolute; she used the word ALWAYS.   Now my internal self-righteous, know-it-so-well, English major brain stopped reading.  Words like never, always, ever, best, worst, nothing, everything, actually weaken the message rather than strengthen it.  But, when Dr. Brown chooses a word like always, it must be based on her research.  It must be truth.  Now back to her quote … the lack of love and belonging will always lead to suffering — causes me to ask, as a Spiritual Director, where in your life do you lack love and belonging, and might that lack be the gateway to some of your suffering?  Or the gateway to your healing?

If so, invite a friend, family member, or professional, such as a Spiritual Director or therapist, into your life and into your internal conversation.  Someone who can hear your heart without fixing it, making suggestions, or shaming you.  Someone who can hear your vulnerability, how you were humbled by your own doing.  Someone who will be in your corner, supporting, listening, and loving you as you are in this time of suffering.

Let me add that for the most part, Jesus called many strangers to follow him, to hear his heart.  As you seek and ask for a soul-connection it just may be someone who surprises you, just as Jesus surprised his followers.  You are looking for a companion who can listen with spiritual ears, look with spiritual eyes, and respond to your soul with love and belonging.[1]

[1] Fryling, Seeking God Together, 17.