Honesty, humility and vulnerability are the most precious qualities in times of suffering
I have been through a lot of tough circumstances in my life including poverty, physical disability, loss, miscarriages, all types of abuse, fertility problems and more. I would like to share what I have learnt hoping that some might be helpful to you although keep in mind that we are all different to one another and process suffering differently.
Suffering is never easy and we can’t do it alone. We need God and we need each other.
Your friends and family love you and you are not alone but sometimes they don’t know what to say or how they can help.
We need even more encouragement than normal so an encouraging word or even just a listening ear is like a rare, beautiful treasure.
Taking a bath, going for a walk, travelling, being creative, writing, learning new skills, completing goals and projects, catching up with people helps me. Whatever cheers you up a bit, takes your mind off your suffering, do it more than before, give yourself a break and treat yourself.
You need to be direct (certainly with me) and honest about how you are feeling and how others can help you with people closest to you and with friends who ask how you are even if it means telling them that you need some space for a few weeks.
It’s hard not to take things personally when you are struggling. We might make more mistakes and say things that we regret later, therefore we need to bear with each other more and learn to forgive ourselves. If you are unsure about what the other person meant, ask them before you get upset, then forgive and forget.
We don’t want to burden people with our struggles and don’t want to be that person who is always complaining but in this broken world all of us have our own daily struggles especially right now. If we decide to be vulnerable, we are giving the other the permission and space to be able to share their own struggles and our friendships and relationships can flourish even more. There are so many people who are genuinely just incredible and will listen to my endless dramas.
I am someone who needs to talk, cry, write and pray, then talk, cry, write and pray again until I feel better. Most of the time I am open about my struggles but you might be someone who prefers to share with only a few special people in your life and that’s okay but it’s better to speak to people you trust and not to bury your emotions. It’s okay to feel all of the crippling emotions you are feeling.
Learn about who you are. Especially in times of suffering you will learn things that you never knew about yourself. So, pay attention to yourself, your emotions, what you are finding helpful and what you aren’t so that your relationships can grow in spite of the pain you are experiencing.
Suffering changes us, it can change us for the better or for worse. We can become bitter, critical and judgemental or more humble, loving and gracious or might go through different cycles of these changes. By learning more about ourselves and separating the good and the bad we can focus on what’s helping us grow and recognising when negative emotions are taking control.
It is important to not get into a cycle of negativity and listen to the devil’s lies as we can become trapped and it will become harder to break free. So many Bible passages grapple with the theme of suffering, asking questions, the writers allow themselves to feel the pain but at the end of all chapters they choose to trust God over fear and hopelessness and hold onto their faith in God. When we choose humility, Jesus can restore and strengthen us and give us transcendent peace.
Healing takes time, sometimes a lifetime but through it all God can shape us into our most beautiful, genuine versions of ourselves.