These two words have a new meaning for me today. I've used them in a completely different way, than before. I've said them in response to situations that I never before would have.
Last night I had a wonderful, mind boggling, ground breaking talk with some good friends. We got on the topic of suffering and crosses, from cancer to crying children and everything in between. Lindsay shared with us the revelation her mom came across last week.
Hold on. This will change how you think.
After much contemplation on why some people seem to be given a heavy cross from the moment they enter into this world, while others seem to glide through life with relatively nothing, she came to the realization that we ALL have to suffer. We have to. God doesn't play favorites or only allow some to suffer. We all must suffer. But sometimes it doesn't seem fair why, for example, some women who desperately want children can't conceive. Why a mother may lose her two year old child to drowning. Why a child is born with such birth defects that he is confined to a wheel chair his whole life. Unfair.
But it all works out even in the end. We all must get from A to B carrying our cross if we want to merit eternal life. What's interesting is that some of us are blessed to suffer here on this earth, while those who don't suffer now, will spend their suffering in purgatory. Do you notice how every single saint that you read about was grateful to suffer and die? They got it. They understood that their sickness, or stigmata was their ticket to heaven. As Lindsay put it, those who are mentally handicapped or have been wheelchair stricken their whole life are on lap 5,000 of our path to heaven while I think I am still on lap one.
I read in the paper a while back about a man who had lost his wife to cancer, a few years later his daughter died from cancer, and now just after his son graduated from high school, he died from cancer. WHAT? I was so perplexed and sad after reading that article. How can that be fair God? Now, I see better. His suffering is now.
If we truly understood the meaning of suffering and to look at it as a GIFT, as our fast track to heaven, then we would be thanking God for our struggles, sickness, and suffering and not running from them. I am a runner. I am scared to suffer. I'm scared to be uncomfortable. I'm scared of sickness. My first reaction is to look at people who are mentally handicapped and feel sorry for them. To say a quick prayer that none of my children will be like that. Oh, how wrong I have been. Don't you get it, THEY are the blessed ones. THEY are closer to God than I.
I went on a day retreat this past weekend at our church and read this from the Diary of St. Faustina:
"Jesus, I thank you for the little daily crosses, for opposition to my endeavors, for the hardships of communal life, for the misinterpretation of my intentions, for humiliations at the hands of others, for the harsh way in which we are treated, for false suspicions, for poor health and loss of strength, for self-denial, for dying to myself, for lack of recognition in everything, for the upsetting of all my plans."
St. Faustina got it. She rejoiced in her suffering here on earth. Father said that she was ridiculed by most people and even the other nuns in her convent. They thought she was crazy to think this way. It's no different today. We will be considered crazy to thank God for our poor health, death of loved ones, fussy babies, financial troubles, loss of sleep, disobedient children and morning sickness. But if we CAN thank him for the opportunity to accept the suffering now, instead of later, we will reap the rewards of eternal life.
Today, I looked at every whine, every "NO MOM", every poopy diaper (that was all over the pants) every nauseous feeling, as an opportunity to suffer. They may be small compared to others, but I don't want to waste a single suffering. To help me remember to offer it up, I said THANK YOU to it all. The kicker today was when I went to the doctors office this morning to get my blood drawn. I had noticed Evelyn's neck which had a perfect red circle on it with white in the middle. I thought, "how did she get ringworm?" Now, let me just preface here how terrified I am of sickness, which I think most of you know. I had just visited my aunt who was telling me all about Lyme Disease and the terrible effects it has caused her son's fiance. To make it worse, we were going camping the weekend after talking with her and I was a little neurotic about the kids getting ticks = lyme disease. So, when I asked the lab tech if she thought Evelyn had ringworm, she said, "ohhhhh...I think that looks like Lyme disease....I panicked. But not after first offering a quick breath of thanks to God for this terror I was feeling.