Sunday, May 20, 2018

What challenges us, changes and completes us

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Something has struck me as I’ve studied those who’ve grieved; a commonality that all seem to share. I know it personally, and it is indelibly real.
Those who are challenged at the depths in some ways master those depths. And, as a friend has only recently added, those who have been to such depths ‘discover that they can (now) minister to those depths in others.’[1]
Those who are challenged are changed and, of a sense, a lost part of who they are is completed; they ‘graduate’ from that person and walk on in a newness of person. To embrace it is healing.
What challenges us, changes and completes us.
Those who are challenged are changed because a completeness comes into their existential realm; they carry about themselves the losses they cannot quite let go of. This can seem rather like a weight, a burden, but really it’s better thought of as a testament of what was endured. It will never be forgotten. It does not need to continue to be painful, yet at times such pain is in itself an important requiem of a former part of our lives, and such pain ought to be honoured if that’s possible.
The secret way of suffering is
success in the succession stakes.
Suffering marks the end of something
and the beginning of something else.
Suffering is a portent that somehow
enriches our experience of time,
which is often experienced as pain.
Suffering takes us beyond where we are. It forces us to create a new normal. It commands the attention, and though we may resent it or be depressed or develop an anxiety disorder, it creates sufficient crisis that we cannot stay as we were.
This in itself can be seem to be such a massive loss; having to let go of an identity we were perfectly content with. But it isn’t always and doesn’t have to be.
It’s a blessing to have been challenged so much that we’ve been changed to completion. We don’t always see this early on though. It can take the passage of years before we more fully embrace the suffering that caused us to grow. And still there’s the remnant of regret, which is a depth we’ve learned to live with, but that goes on with us; a dear and unfortunate spiritual possession we carry for the remainder of our lives.
The normality of life never shifts us.
It’s only pain and pressure and challenge that changes us. God must get our attention somehow. Then we realise, once we’re over the resentment of hating what’s been done, that God is ever fashioning the good out of evil.
Something must die in us before new life can rise.
And new life only rises once death
gives way to the possibility of hope.

[1] Attribution to Pastor Peter Randell, senior pastor at Waratah Christian Community Church in Western Australia.

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