In Others’ Words: A Different Perspective on Suffering
Dr. Kelly Flanagan writes the blog UnTangled. Today’s quote was in his post titled “This Could Be the Difference Between a Life of Suffering or Joy.”
I’ve seen various definitions of suffering, but his statement — Suffering is the resistance to what is — stopped me short. Suffering? Resistance to what is? And then I continued reading:
Suffering is opposition to the present moment and demand for the next moment. Suffering is having this but wanting that. Suffering is the search for the next thing. Suffering is the mental roaming we do for what might be.
And I read that paragraph several times. Let the words echo in my heart. And I heard the truth of it.
Maybe some of you want to argue that suffering is more than this. That there are more types of suffering than what Dr. Flanagan’s definition.That may well be true. But stay with me today, with this definition of suffering … the suffering brought on by discontent. The suffering created by refusing to admit that what we want — the relationship that we long to have with another person, perhaps? — hasn’t happened yet and it isn’t going to happen barring some miraculous change in them. Or in us.
And wanting what isn’t, longing for something that very well can’t happen … is a form of suffering. Rather than being present in whatever our “now” is — be it joy-filled or pain-filled — we let our thoughts roam to the future what-ifs and might-bes.
And we suffer for it. We chafe against our circumstances, wondering why God isn’t showing up. Or is it that we missed Him because we were not present here and now? There is no help to be had because we don’t pause long enough to see what others are offering us: Comfort. Counsel.
I’m still weighing this new definition of suffering. Sifting the truth of it … and trying not to oppose the present moments in my life.
In Your Words: I’d love to hear your thoughts on suffering as “the resistance to what is.” How does that definition resonate with you? Where do you want to push back against Dr. Flanagan’s thoughts?
1 blogger likes this post!