Tag Archives: Strength

Grateful for My Suffering

It’s been a hard day. I went to the institution’s educational department to study a bit in the morning. I literally had to drag myself there, because I was so tired. When I was done studying, I had lunch and then went on the computer to find an E-mail from the housing corporation. My husband and I have been contemplating moving house for a few months now. It’s been up in the air in many different forms. Over the week-end, I thought we’d decided we weren’t going to move after all, but then on Tuesday my husband found out I may have more time on the housing waiting list than we expected. It would be eight years, whereas I thought I had just 2 1/2. Long story short, the housing corporation E-mailed me to let me know the 2 1/2-year’s waiting time is correct. This confused me, because no explanation was given. So no moving house for us.

I was rather upset at first and went up to the nurse’s station to ask someone to take me on a walk. “Don’t you have day activities now?” the nurse replied. Well, I might, but that wasn’t my question. Turned out day activities were canceled (again!). I got upset. At that point the nurse and I had an argument about whether I expected the nursing staff to keep me occupied. If they’d just answered my question up front – no, they couldn’t take me on a walk -, this had been avoidable. Then again, this may be my autistic inability to cope with uncertaintty and change.

After a huge meltdwon, I’m now relatively calm. As I stumbled across the Thoughtful Thursday linky, I mulled over this day in my head and remembered a blog post I had read a while back (sorry, can’t remember where), which reminded the reader to be grateful for your suffering. I think I wrote about this before in one of my devotionals. Because I couldn’t find the post or the Bible quotes it references, I searched for some myself.

“But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13 NIV)

In other words, without suffering, there is no happiness. When you’ve never suffered, you cannot appreciate the joys of life. This goes for Christians, who share in the suffering of Christ and in His glory, but it also goes for non-Christians. After all, my anology of no joy without suffering does not require God. He can of course support us in our suffering and share in our joys, but if you are a non-Christian, you can still learn to appreciate the joys you face each day amidst even the darkest of suffering.

For instance, instead of being angry at the times the nurses can’t take me on walks, I can appreciate the times they can. I do this, and in truth, it wasn’t the fact that the nurse couldn’t take me on a walk that upset me. It was the housing corporation E-mail. Then again, not moving house means I know where I’ll be living once I leave the institution and can hopefully leave sooner than had we been moving house first.

I came across another Bible verse, which reminds me that, because I have moments when I am in a less than optimal state of mind, I also have moments when I am better.

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV)

This verse again reminds us that, in the face of persecution and hardship, we show our strength. We cannot be truly strong if we are never challenged. In other words, if we sit on our butts in a flowery garden eating chocolates all day, we will not grow (except in weight). I may have been in a meltdown this afternoon, but I made it through. I did self-injure, but it wasn’t bad and I was able to calm myself afterwards without needing to be secluded. I survived another crisis and, because of my mental illness, it undoubtedly won’t be the last one. Other people have it easier, but no-one is free from hardship and suffering. It is in the face of challenges that we show our human strength.

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#PowerMonday: Pondering Strength

Over at Strength adn Sunshine, Rebecca P. writes power Monday, in which she ponders the nature of strength. She considers herself physically and emotionally strong. I’d like to focus in this post on emotional strength, because I possess little physical strength.

What does it take to be emotionally strong? I’m generally seen as emotionally strong because I’ve been through a lot and made it through. I’m seen as perseverant by some. Others, however, don’t see me as such, because, if I truly were perseverant, I’d have overcome my disabilities and would live independently. Some people see me as someone who gives up particularly soon.

I’d like to think of myself as strong. Then again, aren’t the circumstances I’ve survived merely that, circumstances? In my #AskAwayFriday post last week, I said thaat the greatest challenge I’ve overcome is surviving prematurity. That being said, didn’t the doctors just keep me alive? I can’t know whether I showed any will to survive. Does this assumption that I’m strong for surviving, not condemn the non-survivors for being weak?

I struggle with the idea of emotional strength as a positive attribute, also, because it condemns the mentally ill. We’re not resilient, almost by definition, because we suffer from depression, anxiety or the like. I see people in my institution who are particularly passive or negative. Does this mean they don’t have strength, or does it merely mean they’re suffering from their illness?

There are these sayings going around. “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” In this sense, God is seen as the cause of our suffering, and we’re seen as the cause of our overcoming of it. This is probably a way to sustain our sense of self, believing we’re strong for overcoming something that life (or God) put us through. I’m more than happy to believe I’m strong for having survived premature birth, childhood trauma, disability, and other challenges. It allows me to believe in myself.