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Adversity and the Perks of Suffering

Recently, I had to do something that was extremely difficult related to my health and well-being. I had some friends that struggled with the same issue, and I shared the benefits of this treatment, which had been life altering for me. To my surprise a few of my friends replied with something akin to, "I tried that treatment, and it was terrible!", While they admitted that the treatment was effective, they reaffirmed that they would never put themselves through that again! I remember thinking, I've never even given myself the option not to!

Suffering, it seems, has always been a part of my life. I'll admit that my life hasn't been the easiest. I'll also admit that much of the suffering I've endured has been due to poor decisions on my part. J.M Storm once said, "Before you pass judgement on someone that is self-destructing, it's important to remember that they usually aren't trying to destroy themselves-they're trying to destroy something inside that doesn't belong". This was certainly true for me. At a very young age I suffered a trauma that would affect every decision I would make for many years to come, in one way or another.

The interesting thing about adversity and suffering is that it's how much of our learning, knowledge, and wisdom are gained. Oh, how we strive to avoid suffering! There's much we'll do to avoid it. We are inundated these days with alcohol, drug, and other addictions that seek (and often succeed) to numb us and take away the sting of our pains. Physical pain, mental pain, emotional pain, and every other kind of pain we find ourselves plagued with. But if we can learn to sit with our pain, be tutored by our suffering, and become comfortable in adversities many important, and lovely things can be made of us.

Now let me make myself clear, I was a terrible sufferer! I would pray for many, many hours growing up, begging God to free me from one perceived injustice or another. Now as an adult when I look back on my journaling, I have a hard time not rolling my eyes. The suffering was real for me though in every one of those moments. Every broken heart taught me something. Every injustice taught me something, and the knowledge I gained started to grow at an almost intolerable rate. Often, I would look around and lament, WHY! I was quite the dramatic teenager and young adult, though nobody understood why. I was raised in a religious home, something I'm grateful for daily. In my teens though, religion seemed to cut the wounds open and rub salt deeply into them over, and over, again (did I mention I was dramatic?).

Looking back on my life today, I'm grateful for the lesson's I learned growing up, as a young adult, as a wife, a divorcee, as a survivor and thriver of numerous traumas, a single mother, a nurse, and Christian. Life hasn't been easy. All of these roles, and many others, have created a very unique and knowledgeable person that I wouldn't change. I have regrets, and there are things I wish I could have done better. However, had I done them better I would have gained far less knowledge, and I wouldn't be the person I am today. I've punished myself unceasingly for many years over the things I wish I'd have done better.

Years ago, I had been praying for forgiveness for the things I had done wrong throughout my life. I woke up very early one morning and realized it was 4am. Anytime God wants to speak to me, 4am is the hour. I knew I needed to pray, and did so at the side of my bed. I fell into a light sleep and was immediately at the side of my Savior atop a very high mountain. I was stunned to find Him there but followed Him as be beckoned to me to run alongside Him. The immense and overwhelming love and joy I felt there was beyond expression. As we arrived at a very high craig, it struck me all at once the number of sins and shortcomings I was guilty of.

I felt like I'd been kicked by a horse in the chest! the force of this realization hit me, and I cowered away from Him. The force of this realization sent me reeling and as I started to teeter on the small edge of the craig, the Savior reached out to catch my hand and I pulled away. This reaction plunged me off the edge and into a decent that landed me onto the muddy ground below. I felt every pain, every fracture, and an immense feeling of shame all at once. I raised my head and realized that I wasn't alone! There were many people here, knee deep in mud, sin and riotous living. I had never felt so relieved!

I knew many people here and I knew them to be some of the most loving and kind people I knew. Perfect? No. Incredible, productive, people that would give you the shirt off their backs? Yes. I was relieved. The judgments I felt from others was gone. My need to continue attending church was no longer a necessity. The expectations of family and others was gone, and I was free for the first time in my life, really free! It felt amazing. As I started to rejoice in my newfound freedom, I heard a huge thud.

I looked over to see my Savior in the mud. He was covered in mud in all the same places I was. He was broken and bleeding in all the same places I was. He looked up at me and the blood rushed my cheeks as I buried my face in the mud, once again. I felt overwhelmed with shame, and then it hit me, He jumped. He didn't climb down the face of that mountain, He jumped after me. He was experiencing every hurt, every pain, and every bit of shame I was. He was here to save me. I couldn't remain there; I couldn't give up on Him. I started to unsteadily bring myself to my knees. The pain! I could barely move. He was there with me, stroking my hair and encouraging me to, "keep trying". As I started to wake up, I could hear him whispering to me, "You can do this, I'll be here for you".

The experience was personal, and deep, and life-altering. I was able to stop with the self-loathing talk. I was able to understand that I wasn't perfect, but I was enough. I tried enough, loved enough, and all my efforts were ENOUGH. I was able to feel the love of God for every person on this earth. Exactly where they are, for exactly who they are. Unconditional love like we have never known upon the face of this earth.

I share this story because I wasn't living the perfect life when I had this experience, to the contrary I had hit a new low. I was feeling, and starting to believe, that I was past loving, past forgiveness, and past hope. I was fighting for my life, swimming in a sea of adversity and suffering that was beginning to drown me. I didn't see the purpose in life anymore, was the purpose simply to suffer? How was God, a loving God, if suffering was the point and purpose of our existence? I can say, I honestly didn't want to do life anymore.

So, I had been on my knee's many nights, for many months begging and pleading for answers, and eventually the answers came. I knew during this experience that I had chosen my path. I had chosen the lessons and gifts I would attain while here on the earth. Like a first time PTA mother looking to impress the masses, I had taken every one of the sign-up sheets for my individual life lessons. I'd done it without knowing suffering, without knowing consequences, without knowing pain. I chose the knowledge, and I celebrated the opportunity to come to earth and experience it all. I can finally say, with honesty, that I don't regret it. Not even a little.

I'll just end with this, one day you'll celebrate it too. For now, let's enjoy the ride where we can, and learn the lessons the best we can. Let's strive to sit in it. Let's strive to endure it well. Let's always keep hope alive. Let's try to find the lessons along the way. Let's trust in loss and grow in grief, like a twisted and swaying weeping willow. Let's try to rejoice in the unspeakably beautiful love, our loved ones are blessed to enjoy, and bask in while they're away from us. We don't have to do it perfectly, that's the amazing news. Let's look forward to our rescue with broken hearts, humble hopes, and compassionate service towards others. For, like Mother Teresa taught, "Each one of them is Jesus in disguise". `.

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I felt this with every ounce of my being and shed some tears, I long for this kind of vision in my life!!!!❤️love you Kim!!!

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So appreciate your comment! Not always easy to share things like this with others!! I appreciate you taking time to read my words!! ♥️♥️♥️

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