Suffering, a Love Story
I want to tell you a love story. A real love story.
Right now I should be inside finishing my statistics homework, but after one of the craziest weeks of my life- 2 cancer diagnoses in my family, one of whom was my 7 month old cousin, starting a podcast, sitting in a classroom for the first time in 4 years, inner turmoil regarding my future career, sitting with my Nana talking about Alzheimer’s treatment for my aunt, working 2 part-time jobs, and trying to learn only semi-successfully about self-care… I need a good, freaking love story more than a millennial (myself included) needs avocado spread on toast and validation, and that’s saying a lot.
There are many pathways to recovery. For me, my recovery is inseparable from my faith. As pain and disease strikes our family this week, I can’t help but go back to where my journey began…
If you’re not religious, fine. Take whatever you need from this post and leave the rest. But I have to remain true to why I am doing this. This podcast and this blog is about being REAL. And this is just about the realest thing I know in my life today.
A lot of people think I fell in love with God because of the new life He gave me. Because of the joy and happiness that I’ve found. Because of the gift of my recovery! Woo!
But you need to hear this: that isn’t true.
This is the real love story:
When I was twenty-two, as a last stich effort to get sober and find healing, I entered a community down in Florida. When I was there, I struggled, to say the least. It is easily, the HARDEST thing I have ever had to do. I had been broken by addiction, was empty, hopeless, and completely lost. I felt more alone and misunderstood than I ever had before and could see no way out. I was surrounded by darkness. This didn’t go away right away. It took me over a year to feel anything real again, and I still stumbled my way through my recovery, and it wasn’t pretty.
But then, I met someone.
I met the Man on the cross.
I met a Man who was rejected, beaten, spit on, deserted, falsely accused, broken, and left to die. I met a Man who had mourned for his friend. I met a Man who laughed and cried with His friends. I met a Man who wanted to change the world, but came up against human opposition time and time again. I met a God who watched His Son die, a mother who cried for her baby boy. A Man who suffered without reason… who felt exactly how I felt… Someone like me… In my God, I saw myself.
There is a reason that when we are in the pits of whatever addiction or burden we carry, that we reach out to, are supported by, and feel especially close to people who have been through what we have. Somehow our hearts are united in our suffering. These “heart strings” bond us in ways that are hard to explain. These heart strings bypass culture, color, religion, economic status, and race. There is comfort there, not because they’re saying the right thing or snapping their fingers for all of our problems go away.
It’s because they’re willing to be there in it with you. It doesn’t scare them, and you know you’re not alone anymore.
I have found this with other people, within my community and my family, but for me, I especiallyfound it with my God.
I did not fall in love with someone who is far away, sitting in the sky waiting to smite me when I made-out with a boy for the first time, like I thought He would in high school. I fell in love with a God who was and is very, very near. A God who can look at me today- bruised, beaten, and hurt and say, “Me too.”
I did not fall in love because of the life He gave me. I fell in love because He gave His life for me.
And that’s the realest love story I’ve ever heard. As someone who is perpetually single, been in dysfunctional relationships, and is waiting for the right guy in a world that’s having a hard time creating them, I don’t have a great Pride and Prejudicestory that I can tell you, but this one is my favorite by far.
There is something beautiful and special about not having to run away from the hurt anymore. Sometimes, there just isn’t a reason for suffering. You can’t always explain it away. As a victim of abuse and trauma, as a little girl who watched her mother battle cancer, as person with a front row seat to the ravaging disease of addiction and the destruction of families… my list could go on… There, the words “it’s making you stronger,” or “everything happens for a reason,” just. don’t. cut it.
That’s when I turn to the people that I know understand. That’s when I turn to my God. That’s when I cling so tightly to that cross that I met Him on.
Wherever you find yourself today, perhaps in the midst of suffering I pray that you can find comfort in the arms of someone who walks beside you and suffers with you. Today, I encourage you to reach out to them, or to finally take hold of a hand that’s waiting openly for yours. I can’t make it go away, but I can promise I’ll be there, and I’m not the only one.
I have found my person. Today, I cling to the cross. And I move forward.