If you are of a certain age, you understand the above quote from Saint Ignatius. Especially during this Lenten season, I am reminded to suffer the right way. Our Lord died for our sins, he suffered more than we can imagine... and he did so with grace. Do I suffer with Grace? Humility? Integrity? Sigh...
I confess that when I was younger, starting around the age of 10 or so, and people would that God has great plans for me or that God never gives you anything you can't handle - it made me so angry. I kept thinking "why would GOD do these things to me?" You see, in my child mind was black and white. I thought I was being punished. I thought I wasn't good enough.
The abuse and chaos of my childhood became self-
In my late 20's, someone told me a few things that I REALLY needed to hear and memorize and act on...
1) You don't have to tell EVERYONE every bad thing that happens to you. Even when you are trying to help, because it scares people away. It's true. Some of what I have gone through, whether by someone else's hand or my bad choices, is horrifying. It's enough to say, "I understand. I've been there." You don't have to give every detail.
2) We are judged on how we suffer. When I was younger, I never suffered well. I was mean and ugly, I lashed out... I hurt myself. I was an angry person. REALLY angry. I resented the fact that other people had great and loving mothers/parents. I was angry and resentful that a crack-addict could get pregnant with ten children and I only carried one to term. I was angry with many things that are the fallout of the abuse and chaos my siblings and I lived through. I was angry that I would tell the truth or try to talk to family members who hurt me, instead of talking behind their backs and smiling in their faces... and it always backfired on me. You know? Boy was I an angry person -- not constantly -- but angry, none-the-less.
I did not always suffer the right way. I did not turn to God. I turned to alcohol or sex or spending too much money. And then, I beat myself up because I knew how upset God was with me... A bad cycle. Right? Sigh... Many people saw through it, knew the situations, and loved me anyway... built me up, encouraged me to turn to God. But so many people only know that angry and idiotically non-Christian person, who claimed to be Christian, but really didn't' back that up with action.
3) God loves you. He's always been with you. He has BIG plans for you. Maybe you will write a book. But you will be able to help people if you give up the anger and turn to God. Sigh.
You know, I knew that God was always with me. I really did know. I think that is why I suffered so much - the wrong way - but suffered none-the-less.
As I began my trek back to God and ultimately back to Catholicism, I found the Saints. I mean ALL OF THEM suffered. Some with illness, and disfigurement; some with hard work and martyrdom; some with leaving their own countries to work in foreign lands... from all stations in life, they suffered for Our Lord and His people. Here are a few of examples of some of my favorite Saints.
- Blessed Herman the Cripple
- Saint Damien of Molokai
- Blessed Margaret of Castello
- Saint Maria Goretti
- Saint Francesca Cabrini
- Blessed Miguel Pro
- Saint Wenceslas
Whatever troubles you have, whatever suffering you are going through - pick up a book about Saints or go to a site about Saints. I would be willing to wager that there is a Saint you can learn from. One who has walked, long before you (and I), and who can teach you (and I) to live the right way. To Learn how to lean on God and suffer the right way. Life is full of hardships.... but life is about suffering them the right way. This is one of my favorite passages... but I insert suffer by fast to remind myself that it is not for me to complain or bring others down.
In my 40's I started to be more thankful for my trials and tribulations because I know God really does have big plans for me. In my 50's, I've had the opportunity to help a few people because I really did know and understand what they were going through. Obviously it is all God's plan and has nothing to do with me, except that I am His instrument.
I am still pretty much an open book. But I am no longer angry, except an occasional, sorrowful twinge that I never had more children. But God knows my heart.
I do a lot of talking to God. Maybe not always proper prayers... but just talking. I know He loves me. He knows I love him. I'm so thankful He gave us His Mother, my Mother. I'm so thankful that I am able to help others in a way I may not have been able... and I look forward to making a difference in people's lives - on HIS Holy Behalf.
I pray that whatever you are going through, you lean on Our Lord. Pray. Ask others to pray for you or with you. Let Our Lord guide you and comfort you, so that you will not be an angry, harsh and sinful sufferer...
I leave you with this.
Hugs & blessings,