My prayer this new year was “Lord, teach me to suffer well…” I’m not kidding – that is what i actually asked for (stupid, stupid woman…!)
So, for the last couple of months i’ve been having a pretty hard time for one reason or another. We all get times like that right? When you are getting the living daylights kicked out of you from all sides of life it never comes in a nice ordered fashion does it? It comes as several massive bombshells all at once.
Well, i’ve been coping pretty well (or so i thought) until a few weeks ago when i started letting it get to me and then fell into the most incredible sulk. Since then I have been officially hosting my own mega pity-party for the last 3 weeks.
I wake up, i look like this…
by lunch time i look like this…
by dinner time i still look like this…
and i go to bed looking like this…
How can a 34 year old woman possibly get into this terrible state? I’ll tell you why shall i? Shall i? SHALL I???
EVERYBODY gets enough sleep, APART FROM ME!
EVERYBODY gets their pre-pregnancy figure back within weeks of the birth of their 3rd child, APART FROM ME!
EVERYBODY gets to work on their computer without constant, CONSTANT, interruption APART FROM… (wait someone’s calling…) ME!
EVERYBODY has a perfect marriage APART FROM ME!
EVERYBODY has perfect, well behaved children who do not push their mothers to the brink, APART FROM ME!
NO-ONE has to visit the terror dentist 5 TIMES in 2 months, APART FROM ME!
NO-ONE ever feels lonely or depressed or worried or overwhelmed or completely rubbish, APART FROM ME!
EVERYBODY gets to go to ROME to watch the double mega Pope canonization, APART FROM ME!
You get the picture.
(Notice that so far in this post i have mentioned myself 21 times, my children 2 times, my husband once and the Lord once.)
It was time to face it – i was having a 3 month long tantrum. Time for me to go stand in the naughty corner…
I repeated my new year prayer: “Lord teach me to suffer well, because all i have been doing is suffering badly and its getting worse. I can’t take it anymore…”
“Clare, it’s not about you. Praise Me while you suffer.”
WHATT???!! Another cryptic answer i didn’t want to hear. Why would i want to praise God during times of suffering? Suffering hurts. It sucks. It sucks big time. I don’t like to suffer. Why does God allow suffering anyway…?
This is why. Suffering achieves stuff. But suffering on it’s own is useless unless it is done with Love. Christ suffered for us on the cross, but wouldn’t it also be true to say that He never loved us more that when He was hanging there dying for us?
Love and suffering go hand in hand. For the Christian, they are inseparable. This is another major feature (apart from personal relationship with Jesus) that separates Christianity from other world religions. It is a mind boggling, mysterious, wonderful paradox.
When we accept it out of love for Christ, our suffering becomes a gift. It is a gift to us that we can accept with love and then offer it back to God as a gift to Him. (I am not saying this is easy to understand.)
In this way we actually get to participate in the redemptive suffering of Christ.
And i’m not just talking about the big stuff like having cancer, losing a child, or a failed marriage. I’m talking about stuff like not getting your own way all the time, not taking out your tiredness on your husband and kids, and accepting that following Christ with real love means that you don’t get to do stuff that other people do a lot of the time because He wants you to be doing other more important things at this point in your life.
Giving up meat on a friday each week is easy peasy lemon squeezy compared to giving up your own personal life ambitions, to stay home and change nappies right? It gets us all in different ways.
We do it out of love.
So what about the “Praise Me…” thing? Well i had no idea what this meant (as usual) and i had no idea of what i was doing (as usual) but that evening i decided that bedtime prayers with the kids was going to consist of singing. ONLY singing.
“Gloria! (clap, clap) Gloria! (clap, clap) in excelsis deo!…”
“Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!…”
“Gospa Mijka Moya” and “Zdravo Kraljice Mira“ (“Mary you are my mother”, and “Hail Queen of Peace” – Croatian)
and finally… “Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising…!”
The kids loved it. Dancing all over the room – purposefully jumping on and bursting the balloons we blew up for the Canonisation earlier in the day! Singing at the tops of their voices. It was one of the loudest most raucous prayer times we’ve ever had and it was great!
And do you know… I feel much better now. Try it for yourselves… I know you grump just as much as i do 😉
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5: 3-5