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