“We do not receive wisdom, we just discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one can make for us, which no one can spare us.”-Marcel Proust
In Chapter 9 (“Learning to Walk”) of Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, Timothy Keller reminds us of a concept he presented in Part I of his book- that according to Western secular culture suffering is viewed as an unpleasant interruption of one’s freedom to achieve maximum happiness in life. Negative emotions that go with suffering are to be minimized and managed.
Psychologist James Davies suggests a radical alternative- consider the possibility that your negative thoughts about yourself actually my be correct. If that is the case, the distress accompanying your self-appraisal is a perfectly natural response as well as a necessary prerequisite for changing you negative thoughts.
Yet suffering doesn’t automatically improve our lives. Jonathan Haidt speaks of two basic ways to cope with suffering: (1) “active coping and reappraisal; (2) “avoidance coping and denial”. The right approach to suffering, Pastor Keller states, can lead to remarkable growth. The inevitable trials and troubles of life make or break us. Whatever choice we make, we will not remain the same.
Today’s question: What negative self-thoughts arising out of your vocation loss can be a catalyst for change? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Transformational suffering- Part 1”
Coming Monday: new Short Meditation, “Groundhog Day- all over again!”