Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Love and Suffering


New Years week is the time when I  reflect on where I am, how I got here and where I’m headed. “What next?” she asks.  It’s not so much my making resolutions and setting goals as it is having a conversation with God and my spirit about what’s next in my life.
Last year I decided I wanted to know love, make that LOVE!  What I had in mind was a blue eyed guitar playing cowboy from Montana who paddles a red Caption. Yeah, that pretty much sums up what I thought love was. You gotta admit it’s original.  God must have had other plans because what I got was a 90 Day No Negativity Challenge that frankly kicked my ass sometimes. It seemed like a good idea at the time and in the end it was if I didn’t let my self think about it too much. I removed negativity and what was left was love, make that LOVE! Who knew.  I’m still waiting on the blue eyed guitar playing cowboy from Montana who paddles a red Caption.
One of the best parts of the experience was embracing the wonderful messy imperfection of the human experience. Love, fear, harmony, chaos, it’s all part of the human experience. Love is part of it and so is suffering.
If you are a human being and if you are reading this I’m assuming you are, if you are a human being you will suffer. You will tell a story of tragedy and sorrow.  The unexpected death of a friend, a life cut short too soon, a cherished child whose choices cause her and everyone around her needless pain. You will be blindsided and swept off your feet. You will break hearts and have yours broken and suffer from both. You will cry when you least expect to. If you are lucky you will learn from it.  It’s life.
 Suffering exists because we exist. It is part of the human experience.  We are part of that creation and the choices we make with it matters. What happens is important but what is just as important is our response.   It's how we respond to suffering that defines and helps make us who were are. Our reactions and how we interact with suffering often have more lasting effects on our lives than the event that caused the suffering.  We always have a choice.  It might be a hard choice to make but it’s still a choice and choices have power.

  The trick is recognizing that it’s a choice and being able to make it. It’s like that scene from one of The Raiders of Lost Ark films where the heroes come to the end of cliff and they are told to take a step. When they take the first step into what appears to be empty space a bridge made of stars appears for them. That’s faith.    “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. You have to take that step into what appears to be nothing and trust that God’s got your back. We are loved. Even when we suffer we are loved.

  This week I spent some time looking at my life, how I got here and where I’m going. I have an idea about what next but just an idea. I wouldn’t say no to that blue eyed guitar playing cowboy from Montana.  I know that I want to be happy and have fun.  I’m going to wear cowboy boots and eyeliner more often and add a little sass for good measure.  I’m not going to wait for permission to enjoy my life. I’m going to embrace my life as it is and savor the moments that present themselves.  What that looks like is any body’s guess. I hope it includes more fun and happiness, more music and rivers, more success and confidence and more love than fear.  There’s no getting around it. Making a choice between love and fear is part and parcel of journey, part of the wilderness experience of being human.  So, what’s it gonna be, love or fear? You choose.

                                                          Man's Search for Meaning

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