“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)
Such truth. The process about which Lindbergh speaks takes time. Each word she uses (mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, willingness) is an unfolding.
One of the key words is openness. As I remain open to the love, guidance and maturing process in which the Lord has me, I can continue in this unfolding.
A few months ago had a conversation with a young friend. She described a chronic physical issue in her body that was unresolved. We waxed eloquent about the “advice” given by many well meaning friends. Advice that even included what God’s will was in her situation. Most of it did not seem helpful to her soul.
We didn’t end up with a “solution” either. But we did end up with the realization that her suffering is keeping her open to the Lord. She also has a real-life way of relating to people who have unresolved issues in their lives. She won’t be giving pat answers. She will know how to sit with someone in suffering. Her heart is open in new ways because of the chronic nature of her situation.
I am so proud of her as she walks this out. She is going to be the kind of leader this next generation needs–authentic, vulnerable, loving.
As we listen to our friends, let’s encourage them to remain open. Let’s encourage one another to mourn our losses, and grow in understanding of one another. Let’s let patience and love grow into continued openness and vulnerability. Let’s let the reality of suffering keep our hearts soft toward ourselves and toward others.
Let’s allow our suffering to take us further into the depths of wisdom and maturity. Some of us find that we end up open only after beating our head against the brick wall of a situation that will not change.
Most people don’t have a choice about whether or not they suffer. But we all have a choice about what we let take root in our heart as a result. (Tweet This)
Here is a video version of this blog post. Feel free to share with a friend.
Originally appeared on the Presence blog, August 2014.