Saturday, August 6, 2016

hanging on to suffering

Lewis tells us about prolonging our suffering today in A Year with C.S. Lewis.

He says that part of the reason is that we don't want to be small people. If we're going to suffer, we want to suffer on a grand scale, as mighty heroes in our drama. And if you yourself aren't like that, I'm sure you know someone who is. Everything is huge. Every problem becomes theater. And it's normal to respond to our lives in this way.

But even in the small sufferings, there is part of us that sometimes wants to hang on to them. You see it in small children who will continue crying long after they've forgotten what they were upset about. And sometimes when I have a headache or some other malady, I'll pray and lift up my suffering to God, as I've mentioned in other blog posts. Sometimes He just takes that suffering away when I do that, and my headache feels better. And there is a small part of me that thinks "Oh. Well, I guess I'm glad it's gone. But now I feel like I'm not participating in His suffering anymore". It's similar to the feeling you get when you go to work and find out that you don't have to work that day. The feeling of "Oh. I ... guess I'll go home then." And part of you is glad. But part of you is disappointed.

This is a reverse version of how we try to hang on to our expectations rather than accept the reality that God sends us. We've talked in previous posts about how we sometimes don't live in the present because we hang on to our expectations of the way things "should be". And usually that means hanging on to some past happiness rather than experiencing the present moment when it's challenging. But other times it's like Lewis talks about today. Hanging on to our pain rather than accepting the relief that He gives us.

There is an aspect of God that frequently helps me when I remember it. It is His amazing generosity. When I start to worry that I'm enjoying things too much, or that my life should be less amazing than it is (because when God does cool things in your life, you sometimes feel guilty)... I remember His mind blowing generosity. And then I ask Him to help me be just as generous to those in my life.

Thank You, God, for giving us the gift of relief from our pains. Help us to accept that relief and trust in your generosity.