Note: More to Life with Faith and Lois is designed to be heard, not read. We hope you’ll listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that won’t be on this page. Our transcripts are generated with speech recognition software and may contain errors. 

Lois                        

Welcome to the podcast, More to Life with Faith and Lois.

Faith                   

I’m Faith

Lois                          

And I’m Lois.

Faith                      

Our podcast explores life’s many transitions that inspire and daunt us.

Lois                       

Hello Faith, welcome back.

Faith

Good to see you again Lois.

Lois                         

I am so grateful for the opportunity we’ve had in this last week to kind of practice what it means to face negativity, head on and to watch certain elements go away. I’ve started to name things that really tick me off and sit with it and then like put it on a cloud somewhere and watch it go. It’s a mental image and a vision that I have, but it’s starting to work.

Faith                    

It does work. I send mine up on helium balloons in my mind and just get rid of them, hook them on this little hook and just let them go. Release them because it’s the releasing that changes everything.

Lois                        

So if you haven’t listened to last week’s podcast on negativity, please feel free to go back and listen to that. And any of the other ones we’ve done on transition and share this podcast and you know we are sending out newsletters every week. They are on our website www.moretolifewithfaithandlois.com. If you want to sign up, it’s at the bottom of the page. You can sign up and get on that newsletter list and we would love to let you know what we are up to. I am so excited about today’s podcast because I never thought a topic like what we’re going to cover today would bring me so much amazing result because it doesn’t seem like it from the outset. Episode 83. Transition: The Impact of Suffering.

Faith                     

Oh and so many people do not even remotely like that word. No. They pull away from it. They run from it. They go, why would anyone want to suffer? Why would anyone want to hurt? Why should I even look at that? Oh, I know it because it’s heavy. It’s really heavy and it’s scary. I mean I think the one of the things about suffering is we fear it. We fear because we don’t fully understand. There is a wealth in suffering that we are not gleaning and claiming as our own because we avoid it.

Lois                       

You know, one of my favorite writers is Madeleine L’Engle and she wrote books that ranged in anything from children’s stories to theological reflection and she was one of the first people that I read in my life that emphasized that you really cannot experience joy without knowing suffering. In fact, one of her favorite quotes for me is – maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light -. And I look at that with my husband now,Art, who I just am so wonderfully blessed to be married to. And I think, you know what happened to allow me to arrive at this? Well, something was missing before and that is no longer missing. There are other things. I mean, look at our podcast now. It evolved out of something that was missing before and after a career in broadcasting, and fireworks for Faith. I mean different things that we went through that brought us to where we are now, that if we hadn’t had those moments of going, wow, these other didn’t work out well, they didn’t work out. And then something else did. Now at the time that those things weren’t working out, my thought wasn’t, well, I, will get another husband or well, I will get another line of work. It was, this really sucks and this is hard and there are things we have to go through. But the truth is once we go through some of these very difficult dark nights of the soul, the light that comes through on the other side can be the sweetest light we could ever see.

Faith                     

It’s illuminating. Yes. And it takes us to another place of seeing and understanding the more of what is really out there. But we have to oftentimes pass through what isn’t there for us in that moment. And again, it’s like we either press through it and move through it or we rent from it.

Lois                       

But a lot of people, Faith don’t like to embrace this word at all. Not at all. What do you see as the word suffering comes up?

Faith                   

Well, now suffering for me is opportunity, but it always wasn’t. That suffering was something to be avoided. And we can avoid it in a lot of different ways. We can work, we can overwork. We can get involved in something that’s much more pleasant, we can get massively depressed, which is another way to avoid suffering. So we can go to a positive way of approaching it or we can use negative things. Some people will over drink or use drugs to numb out from what they don’t want to feel and what they don’t want to face. And so you get lost in a different world when you avoid suffering. The interesting thing is that suffering doesn’t go away because you took the detour. And I think that was the awakening for me is when I realized, you know, this isn’t changing anything. It’s still there. The very thing I’m trying to avoid is still there. Am I going to process it and move through it or am I going to find a different world to live in to avoid it?

Lois                       

So this is what we get to focus on with you for the next few minutes. I mean it seems so it’s like paradoxical that we’re saying yes – and this is hard, but we’re going to do that because suffering really offers us a great deal. It is filled with pain. And yet it holds more than just mystery. So, so what does suffering teach us in the next few minutes, we’re going to check in right now with Franciscan priest and ecumenical writer, Richard Rohr, who actually writes, – we shouldn’t try to get rid of our own pain until we’ve learned what it has to teach. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to everyone around us.

Faith                    

And that is absolutely true. I tell sometimes my clients, if you don’t deal with this, your anger, your hurt, your pain, your suffering, it’s still going to ooze. It’s kind of like you’re putting a cap on top of something that has all this pressure built up underneath and we think, well, I’ve kept it, therefore it’s hidden, but it pretty soon it begins to leak and squirt and twists and then the fumes of it begin to impact those that you’re around. You can’t hide it. It’s going to come outside ways and we think we have control over it, but it has a power and a unique power all of its own.

Lois                      

And when we sit with it and when we let it wash over it, as hard as it is, something happens. Because as we’ve talked about before, most emotions and most feelings and even what we’re going through does not last forever. It doesn’t. So as we’re going through it and it starts, you know it’s heavy at first, I’m not denying this for a nanosecond, but as it starts to move through, the intensity of the beginning of the suffering is no longer there. And you’re going onto another level and to another level. And that’s when you can start to feel and absorb the teaching that will come out of what you’re going through.

Faith                   

Most of us are so terrified that if we take that cap off, it’s going to just explode. And when I ask a lot of people that I work with, why are you so afraid of suffering? Almost all of them will say, I’m afraid I’ll lose my mind. I will go insane. That’s how powerful it feels to them. Or I won’t be able to function. I won’t be able to do my life. And so there’s some underlying fears that come with even beginning to approach it and to let it begin to come out. So deal with those fears first. Don’t jump into it. Deal with what you’re afraid of and this is why it’s so important oftentimes to talk to somebody or to be with someone to process it with. It can be a friend, it can be a spiritual person, it can be a therapist, it can be a life coach. There’s so many different places that we can draw some support from to walk through this with someone else.

Lois                      

You know, there are so many mythical stories about people who undergo and go through suffering and it’s often referred to as the abyss that you have to go down into this deep abyss. The only way you will find a way out is to go down into the abyss where then the teacher presents itself – and the teacher can be all of those things you just mentioned and what we forget when we’re in the midst of this is we will never have access to that teacher, whoever it he, she, whatever might be. If we don’t go through the process. Right. And you said it so well before we try to avoid it thinking that, oh, it’s gone. Well, no, if I didn’t go through it, I’m still going to have to go through it. And what I’ve discovered in my life is if I don’t take the suffering when it comes, if I wait, it’s going to be bigger. Yes. That element will not change. It grows.

Faith                   

It grows, and then it becomes more like that green slime thing that just keeps spreading around. Yeah. The key thing is that you begin to know after you’ve done it enough times, which I have done so many hundreds of times that if I face it, I get through it and then there is something you do break through. That is where your breakthrough comes is when you actually face it and walk through it and you don’t have to do it alone. We’re not meant to do it alone. Right. And so that’s where we can take courage and support in saying there is a way through this.

Lois                        

And just know that as you get through it, then that’s how you can offer healing to others as well. Because as you mentioned before, this poison, it’s not just impacting you but everyone around you. Another thing to understand from suffering is that if nothing happens to us, we don’t become real. We know people, you all do and you go there doesn’t seem to be any substance because they have worked so hard most of their life to avoid anything that they have no good stories to tell, but it’s more than that. It’s the depth factor because they haven’t experienced what happens when you really go through the fire. I mentioning Madeleine L’Engle and some of you may have seen the movie A Wrinkle in Time or read that book and if you know anything about her story, she started to write, you know, decades and decades ago, but nobody liked this book. They thought it was too challenging for young readers and they did not want to publish it and she just believed this was for a young audience. And so she stuck to it and she had more than a dozen major rejection notices and now you know what’s happened to it. It finally came through and then now we’ve obviously Oprah Winfrey and Ava Duvernay liked it so much that they made a beautiful movie out of it. But what I’m saying is sometimes if we don’t go through that period of, you know what, nope, nope, nope, nope. And the suffering, she went through the embarrassment of people saying, so would you like to think of another profession here that you might be able to make some money at? You know, we get this in terms of what we’re trying to do and this may be what we have to go through so that we can then take this on to the next level.

Faith                    

Yes. It’s like when you have that conviction, which I loved about her, she had a conviction of a knowing that this was where it needed to land. And so the whole world around her was rejecting it, was putting her into this place of suffering was being created by that rejection. But when you are, have a conviction that is greater than the rejection, you hold true to it, and that’s the darkness that you’re walking through. No, I’m going to let my conviction guide me. And she did, and she had her breakthrough into where it needed to be. The part about the abyss, so good, Lois. Because when you’re down in there and you’re gleaning what you’re really there for, then you look up and you see the exit, you see the light, and then people go, yeah, but I’m in the abyss. I’m in the abyss. How do I ever get out? Well, the wonderful thing is is that truth and goodness and love give you a ladder and you begin to climb up out of truth. And we forget that it is truth that really sets us free out of that darkness, out of that suffering. But we can’t see the truth until you’ve entered the suffering. And then when you’re in that suffering, you see the truth. And those are the ladder rungs that we put our feet on and begin to climb up and out. So it’s so important to say there’s a mystery about suffering that when we avoid it, we miss the mystery and we missed the beauty of what is what is there for us to take us to a new place in our life.

Lois                      

You know, many people want to ask the question, can suffering make us stronger? And one of the things that we’ve done in, in some research, and I remember looking at this a number of years ago and I’m so intrigued by post traumatic growth. The phrase was coined in the 1990s by professors out of University of North Carolina. And basically the bottom line for this is people who suffered traumatic life events have a tremendous desire for personal development. Now, yes, we know plenty of people who suffer very severe events and they don’t turn that way. But there is such a large group of people who have taken very negative circumstances and then gone on to do these things. And these researchers were saying, what’s the difference? What is it that takes one person who went through war and a hard, enormous hardship and turned them around to want to grow. And that’s all of their study and research has been into that. And it’s interesting that some people gain this positive life change that they never knew they possessed, except that they went through this horrible situation.

Faith                    

Yeah. And that’s my story in a nutshell. Deeply deep suffering that I had and it impacted me. I was sad, I was depressed, I was hopeless, I was despairing all through my early mid childhood into my junior high, into my high school and post high school. All those years were very difficult, very, very painful times. And some of the choices I made afterwards kept me in kind of that cycle because that was what was familiar. But there was always the sentence side, no, there’s something better, there’s something better. And I use those moments of stepping stones, of putting my foot one in front of the other like, no, this isn’t it. This isn’t it, something. I didn’t know what it was. I just knew that where I was was an ed. So that’s the beauty of even, even when you’re still suffering, listen to that still small voice that is saying inside of you, this isn’t yet, this isn’t it. Just keep going, keep going. And that pushed me on and onward and forward to keep looking and finding and discovering what it really was, which is joy, which is hope, which is seeing life for what it really is and experiencing my own potential of seeing me who I am and not for the person that I was told I was. And so all of these are ingredients into overcoming suffering, but you have to move through it what you believe in the moment, because that’s all you’ve got.

Lois                      

Kahlil Gibran writes, the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. That’s right. So if you think about these openings that you’re getting as a result of the suffering, the joy that you get to contain in those openings as a result of being carved. And it is literal carving. Oh my goodness, yes. You know, you get to come out with a joy that no one could give you in a positive experience because it happens through this. That’s right. We don’t ask for you to invite suffering. This is also another thing we’re not, this is not a self flagellation like, Oh let’s go do things that put us in pain so that we can be more joyful. We will encounter suffering whether we ask for it or not. So it’s how to approach it. Exactly when you encounter it. Exactly what we’re talking about.

Faith                 

Going through suffering allows us to relate to others strongly in similar situations to them and we learn so much from it like humility, compassion, tenderness, gentleness. Because if you have suffered and someone else’s suffering, you have a glimpse of what they are going through and that’s, we are move then to be a different compassionate, more kind person in relating with them. And that makes a huge difference for them and for us.

Lois                        

Yeah, it’s the level of empathy. Yes. We understand that. You get it. So when you hear someone else’s story, it’s not that you’d then tell yours, but it’s that you absorb it and understand and your compassion is at such a different level. And people know this by the way. This is that whole thing of if you’ve never gone through anything in life, there is very little to share and you’ve been so safe. You’ve always stood on the sidelines. You’ve never taken a risk. And there are very few people who go through all of life like that, by the way, but they want to and they’re holding back. The more we go through it, the more we find that we can embrace other people with the same kinds of issues that we’ve gone through.

Faith                     

Yeah, it’s so important that it brings us back into this is , how we relate one to another. It’s not just with the good times, it’s with the painful, difficult suffering times in life that we also relate with each other.

Lois                       

You know, we’ve heard the song and it comes from Nietzsche, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It’s really important to remember as we’re going through these dark moments of our lives, that there is another side to this. There is room for growth, and we do understand that some of you may be struggling from pain, chronic pain from suffering of a loss of a loved one, of a partner, of a child that is so deep you don’t know where or when you’re ever going to see the other side to that. It doesn’t have tap in right this minute, but there is a process and there will be a time where there will be light that is able to come through.

Faith                     

It’s coming. The more we approach suffering as a path to growth, the sweeter we will experience every moment of joy.

Lois                       

So we encourage you to look for what your suffering has to teach you right now, and then when you look back, acknowledge what has changed in you as a result.

Faith                   

Please share this podcast with anyone you know who’s going through a very challenging time in their life.

Lois                       

And please join us next week for Transition: The Impact of Wisdom.

Faith                  

Get the latest news on our social media platforms and on our website, and please subscribe.

Lois                       

More to Life with Faith and Lois is a podcast to support, encourage and uplift you.

Faith                  

As you transition through all sorts of change, we want you to know there is more to life.

Lois                       

We’ll be back next week.