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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dwelling Safely in the Privacy of Suffering

I like to be honest. I see no sense in putting on a mask. There is no encouragement to the masses in conquest without pain. But this is something God gave me in the privacy of my own anguish recently. I thought it worthy of transparency and sharing.
There is an invective spiritual force that hates us, and the more we draw near to God, the more this force endears itself to our ruin. And if you read that to your distaste, maybe this article isn’t for you. But anyone given to spiritual attack—given occasionally to the censures of spiritual warfare—will agree; it comes in the matter of a soul suffering that punishes our cause of good but for a time.
This article is about staying safe when we’re under the spell of that kind of torment—the private suffering that many are given to, but that so many do not feel comfortable talking about, let alone expressing with candour.
There have been many times in my life when I felt overwhelmed spiritually, to the point of some temporary madness. Not that I was insane. Each time I’ve been very well aware in my own mind that I was still very sane, but that I had far less control over my visceral faculties than I wished to have. This is a scary place to be, even for a short time, because the thoughts we have can be abjectly dangerous, and those thoughts might be acted out.
What do we do when we’re beside ourselves in suffering; a malady not of our own prescription and always a condition that leaves us strewn from even our own understanding?
These are private sufferings we hardly share with anyone. There might be a marriage partner who may know, but so frequently in life many people who suffer in ways that feel shameful or especially weak (not saying it is) never feel they can confide about their anguish. This just gives the shame more power.
It is remarkably normal for any and all of us to suffer in ways that feel inherently shameful. We feel guilty for a whole range of reasons, few of which are genuinely logical.
This needs to be remembered. By far and away the most common thing I do in the counselling space is to reassure people they’re normal. I can tell you that I’ve  felt and done things when I’ve suffered that I’d hardly feel comfortable sharing publicly.
But the fact is these need to be shared openly
such that people could see that
we’re all normal until you get to know us!
Few people go through life without having experienced some kind of dark night of the soul, and those who do have probably been active in their denial.
If we’ve suffered to such a degree that our behaviour is a tightly kept secret, because of the shame it induces, we need to be reminded that this suffering is very common.
Suffering is a common feature of our humanity,
especially when we’re pushed beyond our limits.
What is most important and most transformational at one and the same time is something that should be remembered at the time when we most need it: to hear God say in our lament, “Go gently, sweet son/daughter, this too shall pass, and you will soon be resurrected from what overwhelms you, so hold fast to gentleness as you pass through the storm.”

Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash

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