Your Suffering Doesn’t Define You

Pain follows us around like a starving kitten, yowling its hunger for the whole neighborhood to hear. It scratches its way into conversations, arguments, and the moment when everyone is late for church. We lick ourselves with a self-deprecating comment to gain sympathy. We bite with sharp white teeth because wounding another feels better than dealing with the ugliness inside.

We all suffer.

Maybe it’s chronic pain, a betrayal, a marriage on the rocks, or a headstrong kid who glares at everything you say with dagger eyes. Perhaps it’s shame, or the blasted blame, the never-ending mind games.

//We can pretend we’re ok.

We can replay the tape in our head that it’s not as bad as it seems.

We can go on, press on, and persevere.

All the while, we starve.

We just want to go home, to be relieved of this burden.

Recently, I’ve realized all the pain I carry inside my body: the pinched nerve, the emotional upheaval, the struggle to forgive myself and others, and the walls I’ve built against people who are messy, all stems from a longing for safety.//

We long for home.

More than anything, I desire a safe place where I can stop smoothing all my caddy fight wounds over with fur and just be my matted self. Who will love a scraggly creature like me?

For so long, I’ve let my suffering define me.

I’ve let it carve more than flesh wounds. It’s changed how I think. It’s changed who I am.

Suffering has a way of slicing through a girl’s heart clean and cold.

She wonders, “Is this all I am? My mess. My inability. My stuckness. My unquenchable desire to be free. Does suffering get to decide who I am?”

Alicia Britt Chole writes in 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger, A Different Kind of Fast,

Is it not odd in a generation that rarely blinks at fictional violence sold as ‘entertainment’ that we spend relatively little time considering the all-too-real suffering of our Savior? Picture once again what Jesus endured even prior to the crucifixion. Then go stand in front of the mirror. Looking at yourself, say aloud these words: ‘Jesus endured suffering for me. He believed—and still believes—that I am worth it.’

Christ suffocated and poured out his lifeblood and water on a wooden beam in front of the whole world. He didn’t do it for Himself. He didn’t call angels to dislodge the nails and take Him up to heaven. He walked the way of suffering. He looked down upon the crying, hungry, scraggly lives of his friends, his mother, Romans, his executioners, and a thief, and asked the Father to forgive them.

Oh, how He loved them.

Oh, how He loves you.

Oh, how He loves me.

He takes my pretending, my fixing, my struggle, my pain, and my sorry state, every kind of suffering, both world and self-inflicted, and washes it with the purest water.

Your pain does not define you.

It’s not the boss anymore.

Suffering doesn’t get the final say. It doesn’t get to refine you, making you revile the very creation you are becoming. It doesn’t get to tell you what you have and have not. What you are and what you are not.

You are limited. I am finite. This is the human condition. Suffering reminds us every day as we cry out as and feel our deep hunger. Christ doesn’t ignore us. He ministers in the midst, spilling his blood and body as our sustenance. The milk which satisfies our soul is redemption, suffering redefined by the Son of Man.

Your pain does not define you. Christ’s does.Tweet This

Stop licking your wounds.

Take a good long look at yourself.

Come home, hungry child. Come home. Take. Drink. Eat.

This post is part of Five Minute Friday. Be sure to take community survey and be entered in the great book giveaway. (// the stop and start of five minutes.)

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March 31, 2017
  • Emma Hughes

    So powerful, my friend. You delve right into the heart that we are so afraid to confront at times – our weakness, suffering, rawness – and elevate it to the connector and beautiful broken reality that it is. So encouraging.

  • Stephanie Thompson

    Thanks Christina for the words of liberation. This past week has been one of tremendous suffering for me. Unexpected depression bore down on me like a ton of bricks. In the midst of my struggle, I pictured Jesus on the cross, with all that torments us running through the veins of his broken body. And he continues to take it for us. His arms are stretched forward; waiting for us to hand over the burden.

  • Lynne Cole

    This really hit the nail on the head. I had so much hurt and suffering when I was younger for so long. Now I am older I long to be free from the hold that the suffering had on me when I was younger. You get days when things feel good and it doesn’t feel “right” and it’s because we haven’t learnt how to love ourselves and accept God’s love for us. Our suffering, I believe, helps us to help others, but your right in saying that it doesn’t have to define who we are. Jesus does that. Thank you for your lovely words today. FMF#27

  • Tara Ulrich

    Come take. Eat. Indeed! You and I were thinking along very similar lines this week. At the table, we are all welcome and also seen, known, and loved. Christ died for us. It’s a powerful reminder of how much God loves us. Christ hung on a cross to be resurrected. Clarence W Hall once said, “Easter says you can put death in the grave but it won’t stay there!” That’s the promise of how we aren’t defined by our brokenness, but rather by our title as beloved children of God. Im in the 55 spot this week.

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    This is just beautiful, Christina. When dealing with pain, especially a fearsome and fatal illness, it’s all to easy to see oneself through the eyes of others, as a patient.

    But we’re all so much more than that which hurts us. We’re real people, with real hopes, real dreams, and real, deeply-held worth, bought for us through our Saviour’s blood.

    31 at FMF this week.

    • Thank you, Andrew. That means so much from you. You know, my friend. You know.

  • This is so true- it is easy to feel like our pain and suffering defines us at times but it changes a lot to focus on Christ’s suffering and to realise that he understands and that he chose to endure that for us because he believed we were worth it.