Suffering

I must say that I forgot what it is to suffer. It’s been a long time. Aside from the agonies of sickness and childbirth, there have only been a handful of times I’ve really had to pass through the fiery gates. I’ve forgotten that there is no trick of the mind, no positive thoughts, no drink, no medication, no prayer or scripture that saves … there is no escape from the misery.

There is nothing we can do with suffering but to suffer it.

C.S. Lewis said,

It doesn’t really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist’s chair or let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on.

It’s true. I can breathe deeply. I can will myself to relax, to allow, to surrender. But I don’t and won’t know if it would hurt any less if I were to kick and scream and fight or grip and tear and tense. Perhaps that would provide a distraction, but probably not. The drill drills on no matter what you do.

Or as Trog said to Paul,

No matter what happens at this point, it’s gonna feel like you’ve been kicked in the balls.

I’ve wished I could faint so I could escape it for awhile.

But I’m not the fainting type.

I’ve had the slight desire to lose my mind. Selfishly, there is comfort in an utter breakdown. To wake up and find myself medicated and in a rocking chair staring over a green lawn.

I’m not the breakdown type either.

There’s no choice but to go on.

Nothing feels exciting. I don’t want to start or finish anything. The last thing I care to do is to contribute or encourage or inspire.

My soul has hardened into a lump of unfeeling, cold rage and slimy hate and bitter, bitter, taste. A blind, cave fish — white, clammy flesh grown over empty eyes– slipping through the still ponds and the drip, drip, drip of time sliding over stalagmites and stalactites.

Will it ever see the sun again?

Such is suffering. It is doubt. The sun is shining, but I may never see it again. There is laughter somewhere, but will I ever be allowed to join? There is a feast laid out, but only the savory smells reach me. The food is out of reach.

There is too much time. It oppresses. It suffocates. It chokes.

I could lie down for awhile and quit searching.

Maybe, I could lie down for just awhile.But why? What’s the point? It all remains around me when I get up. I am cloistered.

The only thing to do with suffering is to suffer it.

And continue on. Another day. And another. And another.

Until a day is different. Then it is different. And I’m through. The pain recedes quickly until it is almost forgotten, only to be remembered when the time to suffer surfaces again. Like a dreaded ghost standing at the bedside. I convinced myself it was just my imagination.

It is too real to be denied.

I wish I could see the point.

It seems an injustice that the good of suffering can only be appreciated when it doesn’t hurt anymore.

Life is like an Escher painting.

If I could only capture life

And pin it to a paper,

I could wrestle with the inequality,

And solve for its domain.

But I am a part of its domain,

Someone else has me pinned to a card,

And I am still trying to capture life

And pin it to a paper.

I guess it’s the eternal in us, clashing with flesh and blood. I’m trying to wrestle with God. A creation questioning the creator.

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5 Comments

  1. You’re breaking my heart, but you’ve explained it well…been there, done that…and it’s not fun. It hurts me to see you kids going through all this. You should really be characters after this, LOL, if you know what I mean. Anything I can do let me know. Love Mom

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  2. Life is also like a Monet – a misty warm landscape to romp through – and an okeefe – the burst of color against the starkness of the desert- walk out of the escher painting and into the sunshine and the color with what you have…your health, your beautiful family, your hope. What, go to the beach at a time like this? Yes, the beach or a lake or into the woods. Turn off your phone, unplug your laptop, make some tuna sandwhiches, buy some chips, and enjoy each other’s company. I’m not suggesting an escape, but I am suggesting that is extremely important to be present with the gifts each day brings as well as its sorrows. Sometimes you need to fight to even see the gifts, so if you are not the surrendering type, but a fighter, which I know you are, begin your QUEST at this very moment, and fight like hell to see the gifts and embrace them. Pilgrims may wander through the Escher paintings, in order to glean some important spiritual truth, but they don’t get stuck there, for there the pilgrimage would end. You have asked the Lord to help you live a timeful life…a meaningful life.I know this sounds strange, but you have been released from a tremendous debt, and although you might not have wanted to be released from debt in this way, you have prayed for a way out -perhaps this is answered prayer, even though it is extremely painful, it can also part of your healing if you allow God to make His meaning known. So when you question Him, you might also question your own heart, which He above any other being KNOWS intimately, and consider that HE is rendering it unto His will out of his infinite Love and Mercy. Yes, he has permitted this sorrow, and we’ll know why only when we are past it, true. But He has made you strong, inside and out, see yourself the way He sees you, and you will be through the fiery gates. Even as the fire may yet rage around you, it will not overtake you. But, what am I saying? You KNOW this already!

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  3. DANIELLE

    WHEN I FIRST HEARD OF YOUR STRUGGLE MY THOUGHT WAS WOW, I BET THAT YOU AND PAUL ARE FINDING THE JOY IN ALL OF IT. THAT IS HOW I SEE YOU TWO SMILING AT WHAT EVER COMES YOUR WAY FULL OF GRACE, HOPE, JOY AND LAUGHTER. YOU ARE NOT ALONE NOR WILL YOU EVER BE. THE JOURNEY IS WHAT MATTERS NOT THE DESTINATION, MY WIFE HAS TAUGHT ME THAT MUCH AND YOU AND PAUL HAVE INSPIRED US AT TIMES. GRIEVE FOR AS LONG AS YOU HAVE TO BUT IT IS ONLY FOR A SEASON. KNOW THAT YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION TO OTHERS THAT YOUR VOICE AND PRESENCE ARE BEAUTIFUL CHANGE THE WORLD BY YOUR PRESENCE IN IT FOR IT IS THE SPIRIT OF GOD THAT LIVES AND BREATHES IN YOU THAT DRAWS EVERYONE NEAR. YOUR VOICE IS HEARD NOW CHOOSE TO LAUGH IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY LIKE THE CHILD OF GOD THAT YOU ARE AND WE WILL ALL JOIN YOU. CHASTELL THE KIDS AND I WOULD LOVE TO SEE ALL OF YOU SOON WE ARE NOT FAR AWAY.

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  4. Danielle,

    About a year ago, Kevin and I stopped by your house for a lovely dinner with your wonderful family, not knowing ANYTHING of your situation. I am so grateful for that introduction to you and your family in a completely different environment than I had ever known before. I know that this is a very bitter pill to swallow and not nearly what you had “planned.” I know that right now is a very tough time for you. I know that you don’t really want to hear this but you have inspired us to think so much more. You have helped others and I pray that you will find what it is you have so aptly titled this blog. I agree with Robin that this is your time to make a “time-full life.” Maybe it isn’t the exact adventure you had planned, but life rarely works that way…. with love rebecca

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