let's lower the suffering pedestal
"She's been through so much, but she is so positive. She's so strong...I don't know how she does it!"
How many times have you heard this or something like it?
Even before I got sick, I heard this a lot -- mostly in reference to others, sometimes referencing me. It's true: I've had my share of tragic life experiences, but this doesn't mean I'm not in need of grace as much as anyone else is.
I think a lot of times, especially in the Christian community, we are so flooded with stories of people being "strong" through suffering that we're missing the mark when people fail during suffering. It creates a false expectation when we face these issues:
Why am I not handling this better? Why am I so angry at God? Why can't I get it together?
These are some of questions I asked a couple years into treatment. And through counseling (my doctor requires all Lyme patients to go through counseling, isn't that wild and wonderful?), scripture, and a lot of wise counsel, I've learned one important thing: it's okay.
There's lot to learn when we fail, even when -- especially when -- we suffer. When we're in need of grace. People so often focus on the "when I am weak, I am strong," portion of scripture they miss the whole "pleaded with God three times to take it away." Both are noble, both are holy, and both are just as much as a part of the process.
And this is where Christ really displays His grace and glory. Not when I pretend I have it all together but when I admit I'm pissed someone has cancer and it's not all okay or I'm annoyed I collapsed on a crowded subway platform. Because we were never supposed to get the glory, anyways. I would just fail you. Like, a lot. :)
Jesus suffered. He told us he'd face troubles in this world. And at times it would suck. (A lot.) But He changes our perspectives, assures us this is not our home, and it's not supposed to be perfect. But that we have a patient God who is loving and strong and glorious despite a broken world and broken people, just like me.
So let's not put people on suffering pedestals. We're all human; we all need grace.
When we need to rant and curl up in the fetal position or need chocolate milkshakes because nothing else sounds good, please sit with us. But also remind us of truth. Tell us when we're being bratty and taking people for granted and lose our perspective. Because Lord knows we're in need of it just as much as anybody else, if not more.
So here's to grace, here's to failing, here's to knowing this story is bigger than myself.