Suffering is painful, and we’d all like to avoid it. But suffering has a redemptive quality that is often more powerful than we imagine. Cheri and Amy discuss their own times of suffering and the lessons they’ve learned from it. They’ve found that the redemption’s not only personal, it’s a gift to pass on to others! Listen in for a changed perspective on the gift that none of us would choose.
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- Meg’s website: FourFineLives.com
- Read about how Meg’s journey began: “Craniosynostosis“
- Episode #206 Transcript — coming soon!
- In the midst of suffering, am I measuring up or am I pouring out?
- In the midst of suffering, am I engaging in self-betrayal or self-sacrifice?
- When have I glossed over someone else’s suffering?
Featured Author — Meg Apperson
Meg Apperson is a blogger, homeschooling mother, and pastor’s kid. She and her husband Cody live in North Carolina with their four children.
Meg is a passionate lover of words, advocate for medically fragile children, and aspiring minimalist.
Transcript — scroll to read here (or download above)
Grit ‘n’ Grace: Good Girls Breaking Bad Rules
Episode #206: Using the Pain of Suffering to Grow and Help
Note: This is a machine-generated transcript that is only about 60-70% accurate.
Okay, Cheri this week we have a challenging not. So I’m going to let you lead with that.
Thank you so very kind of you. Yeah, it is challenging. And I’m the first one to talk about it. So here’s, here’s our loser, you’re not you’re not a victim of your suffering. And you know the line from Meg that just keeps replaying through my head. She when we asked her about, you know how she came to write her book, one of the things she said is, I felt the story was just too magnificent. To keep to myself. And Amy, when I think about the aspects of my life that involve a story of suffering, magnificent is not the word that comes to my mind.
That’s the thing. That’s what I think is so challenging about that you’re not a victim of your suffering. Because man when I’m in the middle of suffering, I feel like a victim. Oh, absolutely. And so for Meg to say that is so counter intuitive and countercultural. Yes. You know, that? Yeah.
Cool. My first response, Okay, I’m gonna whisper this because I don’t really want anybody to hear it. So listeners plug your ears, okay. My first response was, I envied her.
I add? Well, I admired totally admired that. But I was like I and read her ability to put it that way. You know, I’ve, I’ve been read listening to a book that we both enjoyed, maybe you should talk to someone. And man, I mean, I knew the plot, but it’s almost like I had never read it before, or I was absorbing it in a very deep way. And the author made the comment that regret can fuel either bitterness or change. And I’ve experienced it both way. And let’s just say, I claim to prefer change. That’s what I say with my mouth. But sometimes my behaviors make it clear to me and probably everybody around me, that I, there’s something about wallowing in the bitterness. I don’t know what it is, but sometimes it does just seem easier to cling to the bitterness. And so it was it was it was it was important, it was beautiful, it was admirable, and it was I’ll just go I’ll be the one to say for myself. It was challenging it, she kicked my, my tushy, as you would say, with that idea that the story was too magnificent to keep to herself, and clearly, she’s not a victim of the suffering she’s been through. So what is what is your take on? Are you you’re not a victim of your suffering?
Well, I was reflecting on this word suffering. And I certainly have gone through some hard things in my life. And we’re going to talk about comparing in a minute, but but I don’t know that I have ever that I ever feel like I’ve gone through something that has been true deep suffering. Some hard things, some heartbreak for sure. But one of the times that I have learned from someone who is suffering was a journey that I went on with my friend Linda, who Linda and I met I keep track of how long ago it was because she was she had just had her second baby when I met her. And, and they Harrison is the same age as Nolan. So it was 23 years ago when I met Linda. And it was 20 years ago when Linda died of breast cancer. She was diagnosed during her second pregnancy. And I watch Linda turn suffering into grace. Hmm, that’s the those are the only words I can put around it. And I heard the same thing and Meg Mm hmm. And you know, it’s intentional. Bitterness is so much easier in the short term. It’s bad for us in the long term. But in the short term, it’s easier because it takes intentionality. It takes a reset, as you say, a mindset reset. Mm hmm. Um, it takes a reframing of things and all of that takes energy, and thought and intention. But one of the things that I just admired so much about Linda and watching her suffer to the end of her life, they were she was a theologian, and she taught me two things. She said over and over again to me. She said, Amy, God is good, no matter what happens to me, and the cause was 20 years ago, I’m still teared up. Hmm. It’s hard to lose a friend. Um, of course. But the closer guys to the end of her life, the more often and the louder. She’s It. And the second thing is she said, God will use my life to his glory till my very last breath. And you know, that was hard because she really was suffering physically, the end of her life, she’s so much pain, and I was praying for her to die. Because, because I knew she’d go to heaven, and there’ll be an end of that pain and peace. And I, but I kept remembering what she said. And I just trust, I just tried to really dig into trusting that every breath that she took, mattered, and was for His glory. And so, um, because Meg and because Linda lives, what they believe they live their theology, they’re not victims. And in fact, they are leading us, you know, even though Linda is gone, she is still leading me, Maggie led us to a different place and her interview.
I’m so so, so true and so powerful. So let’s shift from lose who you’re not. And I’m just going to say this again, not for the people in the back. I’m going to say this again to myself, and anybody else who wants to listen in and listen, in this time, it’s not a secret. You’re not a victim of your suffering. And so moving into our love who you are statements, okay, so mine is going to be part of my process of moving out of the bitterness here, you are seen by God. Period, I almost said you are seen by God even in your suffering. And I thought I just want that to be a five word state sentence, a five word sentence you are seen by God period. And you know, another thing Meg said, that just stuck out at me. She said, there is a way of knowing Jesus in the valley that you cannot find any other place. And I know this from personal experience. I know this from seeing other people like you with your friend, Linda. And live about a week ago, I was leading the sensitive and strong Facebook group members through a time we call it. We call it morning truth for tender hearts. And we spend about 20 to 30 minutes, just really immersing we do a practice of lectio Divina, where we read through the same passage three times I read it. And then there’s a series of prompt question prompts to reflect on. And it’s just a lovely, quiet time. And the passage that we focused on was just a portion of the story of Hagar, which is not a fun, easy, like I told them, I said, I always skip this one when I was teaching my children like I didn’t like this story for a variety of reasons. But as we just really immersed and then just paused and took the time to just really listen to God speak to our hearts. The the phrase that really jumped out at me was when the angel says to Hagar, the Lord has heard of your misery. And there was something about that word, Misery. Now, let me be clear, I didn’t go and do a word study. So I don’t know exactly what that word means. In the original language, I’ll just tell you what spoke to my heart. And that was that the angel identified Hagar as true emotion, there was no dismissiveness in that. And it just really was. So I’m going to say comforting. But I mean, in the sense of strengthening to me, because right now I’m in a season of just really feeling all of the losses of 2020 in very vivid ways. And sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in my life who is experiencing the lament, I’ve got people around me who keep telling me about what what they’re leaning into, that makes them strong and makes them able to be more positive. And I believe them, like the things they’re leaning into are good. And I know that they work, I’m not questioning them at all. It’s just every time they start talking to me about that, then I feel pressured to come up with something so that I sound equally positive. Like, I’m going into that comparison trap. And But the truth is, right now I’m at a place where lament feels like the right place to be. And so hearing that word, Misery, the Lord has heard of your misery. It just gave me the sense that it’s okay to feel a deep sense of loss with God and that God sent his angel to send that message that she that he knew what she was truly experiencing there was no sense of of what she should have been doing instead it was I see you I see right where you are, I can name it, I can give it the same name that you would give it and it just really evoked in me that longing to be seen for where I’m actually at not where others want me to be Wish me to be expected me to be need me to be. And so what I took away from all that was permission to be where I’m at with God, for him to see me where I actually am. And it was just really powerful and it has remained powerful. The idea that honest misery is okay with God is a gift. So for me, love who you are, you are seen by God, right where you’re at.
That is that is the c’est la moment, girl. That’s really powerful stuff. So, um, mine, my love who you are is from a something that Meg said, she said, there’s an element of advocacy that always makes its way into a trial. Mm hmm. And so my love who you are as you are an advocate for your life circumstances, or maybe in your life circumstances, um, you know, I love this idea of advocacy. And I think I responded to this so much, because, you know, my little shift in, or actually my big shift in ministry, towards racial reconciliation, I have felt that I’m not an activist, but I am an advocate. And, and I thought about some other areas and my wife that I have advocated for, and one of them. And one of my sons has spoken publicly about his struggle with pornography. And, um, and so he’s allowed me to talk about that some too. And that’s how, yeah, because so I’m an advocate for mom, moms with boys who have struggled with have struggled or are struggling with pornography. And that has been very, very powerful in in evitable. Lee, when I bring that up, like at a speaking event, or in a personal conversation, there is this me too moment where, because almost no boys don’t struggle with pornography now, you know, because of the advent of the Internet. So um, so that’s a place where I had been able to be an advocate because of the circumstances I was in and what God has taught me in them. And this is, again, another shift from victim to advocate so so instead of becoming just this victim, that you have no control, no power over your own story. I think that becoming an advocate, stepping into advocacy, just the way Meg has for her daughter and the illness, and that in the her illness, and with the doctors and all that she described, that gives you a sense of power over your story. And instead of just letting things happen to you, you are using that story to I think it’s in First Corinthians it says comfort those with the comfort, comfort with which you’ve been comforted, right, then whatever God’s given to you, you pass it on to someone else, and it’s part of taking the power back in your life.
Hmm, I love that so much. I remember when she said that, and you responded to it. I was looking forward to this moment when you would unpack it for all of us. So wonderful. All right, well, there’s something else I want you to unpack for us. And this will lead us into talking about how to live your one life. Well. And when Meg talked about comparative suffering, you and I both kind of lit up and then she talked about autonomous grieving, why did and you reacted to that? Why did that hit you so much?
Well, I think that the autonomous breathing is so good. I mean, we’re word girls and it to have words to wrap around things. But I had some small issues. And I’m putting that in quotation marks with my fingers that were looming really large to me. And even as Meg had been talking, I was like, Well, those are really nothing compared to what Meg is going through. And, you know, but I think that we have to allow ourselves to grieve, and this has been a really a theme it during COVID I think and, um, is that people are grieving. So, hey, can this will be edited out but define a time of screaming the way she did for me again? I’m gonna because I wasn’t sure whether I really answered the question. I think you did. Okay. And just edited out. What I just
I don’t think she really defined it. Okay, I think what she said was timelines for grief are dismissive and painful. Our journey is our own we have autonomy, and then Okay, that’s what the concept of autonomous writing came at.
Alright. So I’ll just wrap that up then. Um, so I think when we think of grieving as autonomy, this grieving is very personal. It’s, we’ll talk about comparative suffering, you know, We don’t have to compare it to anybody else. We don’t have to be on anybody else’s timeline. We, but we have to grieve to be able to deal with it and move on.
Alright, that’s helpful. So I’m going to move on to just a couple questions we can ask ourselves, and I think these questions will help us to let help you help all of us to live your one life well. And then you’re going to give us a couple of actions. So my first question is, in the midst of suffering, am I measuring up or am I pouring out? And so when Meg referred to comparative grief, it made me think of our recent interview with Shannon and how crazy is it that we compare even in a loss and that we’re adding that measure up game, which isn’t a game, it’s obviously a strategy of the enemy two causes, in the midst of our pain to be comparing whose pain is bigger, or smaller or more valid or less valid? Or should be going on how long? Or how short? And so instead of trying to figure out whether my great grief is greater or more valid, or anything else that involves measuring lines, to be asking, am I pouring out? And so the first kind is what I was talking about with the Hagar. lectio Divina that I did. Am I pouring my heart out to God and lament? Hmm, that’s the first kind of pouring out, am I pouring my heart out to God in lament, I get in trouble when I want to go to a human and I want them to make me feel better, because generally all I do is dump on them. And I might feel better for a moment because it’s a little cathartic. And then I go find another human. So pouring out, am I pouring out my pouring my heart out to God? And am I pouring out love and compassion to those who need it? You know, our mutual friend, Sherry Fletcher. Last week, she sent me a photo of a dog leash and dog collar on her passenger car seat. And my first response was to just choke up and Tara, because I’ve been there before. And I thought, oh, I’ll wait until I feel a little bit better. And then I’ll drop her an email. And I realized, no, the way I can best pour out love and compassion right now. And I just got on boxer and I left her voice box that was choked up and teary. And I was, I was, I hope up in possession of myself enough that I didn’t make it all about me. But just to let her know, with my voice with tears in it, that I know what that feels like, I know how hard it is. And, you know, I just encouraged her to, you know, take care of herself that day to reach out to me if she wants to talk or even just cry. And in the past, I would have been like, Oh, that’s too hard. That’s too much emotion that’s too big. Or I don’t want to intrude, I don’t want to intrude on her life on such a hard day, I’ll just send her emojis, you know, whatever. And so I’m pouring out our heart to God in whatever we need. In my case, it was limited and then pouring out love and compassion to those who need it. In this case, action. Amy, I didn’t just ask the question. I actually took action. It’s just occurring to me. Whoa, you’re ripping up
here? Well, and I just thought that this whole idea of pouring out in grief, there’s this aspect of entering in which is the action off
yeah, that. So that the first question which has now become several questions, the first one in the midst of suffering, am I measuring up? Or am I pouring out and then under pouring out? It’s pouring out our heart to God, and pouring out love and compassion to those who need it? And then the second question is in the midst of suffering, am I engaging in self betrayal, or self sacrifice and girl that hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks, because betrayal is being like Judas sacrifice is being like Jesus. And Whoa, I mean, it’s just a whole new way of looking at people pleasing. So self betrayal, those behaviors are trying to keep the peace, which is basically being a peacemaker, rather than a peacemaker and allowing unsafe behaviors versus self sacrifice, which she said had to do with relinquishing my preference for comfort and actually speaking the truth. So well, that’s challenging in the midst of suffering, am I engaging in self betrayal, or true, Christ like self sacrifice, so talk to us about what actions to take.
Alright, so the first action is to acknowledge your own suffering today. You don’t have to compare it to anybody else. You don’t have to decide whether it’s been too long that you’ve been suffering, but just to take a moment to acknowledge your own suffering today, and like you said, to be Hagar to take it to God to pour it out to lamented it. We’ve got a conversation coming up in the next season with BB race that we’ve already done. I can’t wait to share everything that we’re talking about today points to that conversation, y’all hang in there with us another incredible conversation with Barbara. Okay. So, um, but that we have to acknowledge our suffering and grieve our suffering that this is the way I said move on in just a minute ago, and I want to amend that because I think moving on makes the same like it’s so over. But let’s say move forward. And that means that the sadness is still there. But we’re we are moving forward. And then number two is acknowledge someone else’s suffering today, you know, what you just said about your interaction with Sherry Fletcher was so powerful because I think a lot of times, we don’t want to acknowledge someone else’s suffering, suffering, because it’s too messy for us to figure out what to say we can’t figure out how to say it. And so we ignore it, which is hurtful in and of itself. And so we recognize when we’re where we’ve grown, glossed over someone else’s suffering, and we talk about it and and then don’t just think about it, but actually reach out to that person that suffering, do something kind for them, just along the lines that you did for our friend, Sherry Fletcher, you know, leave a voice message, take dinner, do whatever I like some of the practical ideas that may had jus something to to give them time and space in the season that they’re in.
So so good. All right. So what is the scripture that we’re wrapping around these two episodes?
Isaiah 4810 says, See, I have refined you, though not as silver I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. Oh, the grid, the grid is receiving that, you know, in saying that I haven’t suffered and they were talking and I was like, Yeah, I have just been comparing you know, in the grid is acknowledging my own suffering, calling it what it is, and grieving over it. I’m an avoider on a stuffer. Inside the grid is just facing it. You know, I say I didn’t suffer in the next sentence. I’m crying over the death of my friend 20 years ago, that was a season of real suffering for me. Yeah,
absolutely. Ah, ah, I’m just gonna, just gonna breathe and enjoy the fact that you are, you are giving yourself grace, even as you talk about grit. Oh, my goodness, you know, and then I’ll just the grace all all, I’ll pull from what you just said in terms of recognizing when I’ve glossed over somebody else’s suffering, you know, my, my instinct is to beat myself up, you know, for being the worst friend ever, or the worst daughter or worth sister or whatever else it might be. And so to give myself grace, you know, obviously, at the time I did the absolute best I could, even though it was probably, you know, it may have been really lousy, it was still the best I could at the time. And, and then to know that in my, in my healthiest relationships, if I’m even doing if I’m trying, they’re going to give me grace. And they’re going to even be able to give me some guidance along the way. I don’t have to get it completely right. Like it was. So it was so freeing to pick up my cell phone and go, should I voxer or shouldn’t die. Yeah. Because she’s the kind of friend who will receive what I give and she’ll be like, Meg remember when Meg said something about even if what they say doesn’t isn’t what she needs to hear. She’ll still receive it as love. Because she knows it was intended in love. And you and I both went
vegan so wise.
Yes, that was amazing to me. Because after my friend Linda died watching what happened and what was said to her, her husband on was like, there were times when I wanted to punch people in the face for him. And I just say that, but he was like mag is he just received his love and moved on. much healthier than punching people in the face.
I think that’s the end of the podcast.
Great way to end a holy moment.
You can’t force me to say anything else because I just love it too much.
our listeners except the ones who unsubscribe which
is Bye Bye bye.
Oh my cheeks hurt
all right, that was fun. Um, well, I mean that little part was talking about suffering isn’t fun Yeah.