Monday, December 23, 2013

Written on December 23, 2013
I'm Different
Different. Defeated. Even despised. She's wonderful. I admire her. I admire her life. And at times I've waded in the water of jealousy, but only recently. In short, this person who will remain anonymous meant well. She simply felt bad for sharing about her life because it seemed to pale in comparison to my struggles.

While this didn't occur out of spite or anything close to it, for the first time in a long time, I felt looked down upon. Different. Defeated. Even despised.

After all these years and considering all that's happened, I haven't really felt all that "different" from the rest, so it's curious that someone treating me so different is what finally tipped my boat.  Have I really given someone the power to define my emotions...to even define me?

I think what has bothered me most about this incident is that my pain seemed to be looked down upon vs. valued for the fruit that it's brought. Bryan DeWire writes on the desiringGod blog, "Suffering has a way of pressing us to go deeper with God." This has always been the way I've viewed my pain.

And if "Scripture is clear that nothing arises, exists, or endures independently of God’s will" (Suffering and the Sovereignty of God), then my pain must hold a great purpose! Furthermore, Philip Yancey writes, "Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory" (Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud).

For the first time in my life, this truth was shaken. In seeing someone think of his life as so much better than mine, I began to think the same. I started believing things like God loves her more than me, my pain doesn't hold significance, and some people really do have perfect lives; they really do get all that they ask for.

"Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself" (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain). "Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse" (Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud).

I've had to remember that the purpose of life isn't to be happy and jolly and downright delirious. In Where is God When it Hurts?, Philip Yancey also writes, "We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with Him. And that process may be served by the mysterious pattern of all creation: pleasure sometimes emerges against a background of pain, evil may be transformed into good, and suffering may produce something of value" (p. 95).

For the believer, afflictions are sanctifying.

"One of the most important things we can do for a suffering person is to restore a sense of meaning or significance to the experience" (p. 203). Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. But luckily for me, I had a an experience that sort of counteracted the above.

I handed her a list, the woman who's been counseling me. The list included my traumas. Under each trauma my list included the threats, lies, reinforcements, and triggers involved. Finally, at the bottom of the page was "how I'm affected today."

Her response? "This is abnormally insightful."

In saying this, she brought me back to the same worddifferent―but this time not in the pitiful sense. She made me feel different, as in special, gifted...and useful to God.

Perhaps she didn't know what she was saying when she said those four little words, but God knew I needed to hear them. This person reminded me that God has a purpose, that He is in control, that He is working all things together for my good. She reminded me that God is making me more beautiful with time; He is giving me gifts, and He is giving me a longing for eternity. And after I'm gone, I will thank my pain. I'm sure I will see it as something that brought me closer to God. I will see it as something that accomplished a great deal. So yes, I am different. And that is a wonderful thing.

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:20).

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him" (Ecclesiastes 3:11-14).

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