On Suffering Well

What should someone who is suffering look like?

Have you experienced suffering in your life?

Ben and I have joked that we know things are difficult when people continue to give us books with the words “Suffering” in the title.  We aren’t suffering nearly as much as others we know.  We have a strong marriage and family and an incredible community of people surrounding us and praying for us.  But these books help us learn to trust God in our own unique circumstances.

All of us who live with a family member with a hidden disability have experienced suffering in some form.  Some of our suffering is hidden.  Sometimes our suffering can be visible.

Over the past few years, my family’s trials have become more and more visible to our network of friends and acquaintances.  Ben’s seizures have caused multiple hospitalizations, a painful diagnostic brain surgery (which only indicated that his seizures were not treatable by surgery), and ultimately the loss of his ability to work.  Yet still, if you were to meet my husband today you would have no clue that he had any type of hidden disability.  Ben is calm, articulate, interested in his environment and the people around him, and extremely good-looking (OK, that last part is my own opinion!).  When he tells people “I probably won’t remember this conversation with you,” they have a hard time taking him seriously because he does not come across as someone with brain damage (unlike many of the neuro-atypical people on this website, Ben has concrete, damaged portions of his brain that are actually visible on an MRI).

Last Monday I went with Ben to meet one of his new doctors.  As we talked with her, she commented on the profound trials we’ve experienced over the past few years.  She then said something that I’ve been thinking about all week.  She said that noone could tell from looking at us that we are people who are suffering.  She commented on how calm and well-spoken we both were…the undercurrent of her words was her surprise at how normal we looked!

What should someone who is suffering look like?  2

There have been times when I’ve wanted to walk through suffering well; times where I’ve prayed and asked God to help me to please Him and accept His boundary lines with thankfulness and grace.  Then there have been other times when I really couldn’t care less about pleasing God…all I’ve longed for has been an end to the pain.  I think where I’m at right now is sort of a middle ground.  I certainly want to please God regardless of my circumstances.  But there are definitely days that I am far more aware of the circumstances that I would like changed than I am of the fact that I want to please God.

What should someone who is suffering look like?

This is both a spiritual and a physical question.  There are thousands of people around us who are suffering daily who don’t look any different from the rest of us.  As someone who is struggling, I still wake up in the morning, shower, put on clothes and makeup, and care for my family.  I watch what I eat, manage my cholesterol, and try to remain others-centered in my dealings with my friends. I do my work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for man. But a lot of what I do is borne out of habit, rather than a true desire to please the Lord.

So I end this post with a question for those of you experiencing suffering in your life:

What should someone who is suffering look like?

~ Nancy

– See more at: http://chosenfamilies.org/author/prosthetic-memory/page/4/#sthash.C2aZZ1Hu.dpuf

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