Affirmation: "Suffering makes me stronger."
On Christmas Eve, I was sitting in an Urgent Care waiting room, trying not to cry. I couldn't move my neck without feeling pressure in my head. On top of that, I kept feeling like I was disoriented. I just wanted relief.
Twenty minutes later, I learned that I had vertigo.
Three days later, I learned that a root issue was weak muscles in the neck.
I had to start rebuilding that part of my body.
First of all, I am seriously abbreviating this story because we don't have the time. But I will say that it was a journey of learning how to "allow" (sounds familiar?) the process to unfold, pray for answers, and quietly listen to my spirit to know how to move. Answers came little by little until I had an actionable plan to move forward. I am thankful.
The biggest lesson I got out of this adventure is learning how to SUFFER. Americans and people of faith have a hard time with that word. For a long time, I had a hard time with that word. The second we feel an uncomfortable experience, we are looking for the exit sign. But, what I've learned through this particular experience is that pain is not a bad thing. Pain tells us something. Without pain, we don't know when our bodies are sick. Without pain, we don't know that our souls are broken. We need all sensations to know how we are really doing. You may be able to fool the outside world, but you can't lie to pain. It's honest. It's necessary. And NOBODY wants it.
As a matter of fact, I set up my entire life to avoid suffering. I had one painful experience in high school that made me tighten up and start protecting myself. I did it for years. Living open but not really. Free but not really. Creative but only where I felt safe. I said I trusted God, but I didn't. It was a small and suffocating experience.
I decided to move through this particular experience differently. I wouldn't avoid the pain. I would simply move through it. I wasn't trying to end the pain anymore. I was determined to HEAL. Actually, heal. So, my game plan was to cry every time I felt like crying, do my physical training exercises, start reintroducing my routine to my system little by little, do some soul healing work (that's a whole other post), and let myself be uncomfortable. Yes, I gave myself breaks when necessary. I wasn't trying to stress myself out. But I was trying to work on the parts of my system that needed strengthening. To do that, I had to intentionally make myself uncomfortable to retrain my system. It's been a wild experience.
I've made more progress with this particular healing than any other experience, and ironically, I'm recovering faster.
Here's what I now know:
1. There is suffering that comes because of our bad choices, and we should take responsibility for that. But there is a suffering that happens just because life sucks sometimes. We can't avoid it. The sooner we make peace with that truth, the sooner we can learn from the experiences that hurt.
2. I have to LISTEN to my feelings. Emotions are there for a reason. They are there to tell me what's right or wrong. I now sit with them. Express them. Listen to what they are trying to say. That's how I get to know what's really going on in my heart. I now journal with tears streaming down my face, unapologetically.
3. I can keep living my life as I heal from what ails me. I don't always have to make a hard stop.
4. Suffering has an expiration date. No hard time lasts forever. Correction, no acknowledged hard time lasts forever. If I keep pretending to be okay when I'm not, that's when I get stuck in it. Suffering isn't a dirty word. Suppression is. And I'm not the one to determine the expiration date. It ends when it ends. I'm simply focused on the process of healing and let God figure the rest out.
5. Suffering makes me stronger. I've ALWAYS come out of hard experiences okay. If I'm being honest, I become a whole BEAST after making it out of a hard time. It took me a long time to notice the pattern, but now that I know it, I can use it to my advantage.
I don't avoid experiences anymore. I am open to the journey God has for me without resistance. I choose to move through each experience like water and come out on the other side STRONGER.