People might look at my life and say, “She’s got nothing to complain about.” They might look at your life the same way. Or on the flip side, a lot of people with plenty to complain about are genuinely happy. We all suffer to some degree. It’s how we negotiate it that matters.

Richard Rohr makes this observation. “Suffering can lead us in either of two directions: it can make us very bitter and cause us to shut down, or it can make us wise, compassionate, and utterly open.”

Suffering can soften us. Our hard lines in the sand get hit by a wave and compassion is left behind. Don’t get me wrong. We need moral lines and clear boundaries, but lines without compassion make us insufferable, meaning intolerable. (Interesting word, insufferable.) Suffering makes us vulnerable (in a good way). It makes us more sensitive to others. And nicer.

Suffering can be “small.” (My child’s not speaking to me.) Or it can be catastrophic. (A terminal diagnosis.) But when you’re going through it, no matter what the depth, it hurts.

Here are a couple of other observations.  

“Right where you are, in the hurt and sorrow, that’s right where the insight is, that’s where the answer is, that’s where the wisdom is. The transformation is there, the rebirth is there. And you’re not alone.” —Jacqui Lewis

“Once we step out of our own way, into the dark and empty vessel of the soul, “an ineffable sweetness” will begin to rise.” —Mirabai Starr

Right now, I’m going through a small-ish suffering. I’m not sure I could have grasped the lesson apart from the pain. I guess we can try to keep the suffering at bay…or just accept the waves and their lessons. And eventually, hopefully, their sweetness.

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