It was a wonderful Saturday with my mentor, Rita, as we sat down for another quiet yet passionate discussion about the blessings we receive or the issues we face. Rita is special to me as she is the mother of a friend I grew up with at school since first grade, and she was my seventh grade science teacher. We had not seen each other in years, and we were purposefully matched together in a mentoring program. God had a hand in the match up as we have strikingly similar personalities, struggles, and challenges. Rita has gone through many relationship and health obstacles and has fought through everything with grace and beauty. She has much insight on suffering and living fully despite it, noticing God’s blessings each step of the way.
And so on this particular day, I mentioned to her how I’ve been in heightened realization of my physical weaknesses lately. I told her how I’ve felt opposition from a couple of individuals as they sometimes judge me independent of my pain and fatigue, my daily struggle to live as normal of a life as possible for a patient with fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and a past of 17 years of liver disease ending with a liver transplant and two subsequent surgeries. I bemoaned how I deeply wish they could see my point of view, how desperately hard I want them to realize what I deal with each day so they could tread more cautiously and deliberately. Of course, I meant it figuratively as in wishing they could just imagine what kind of physical and emotional pain I deal with and how my various thresholds can be so challenged at times.
Pausing to choose her words and then in her gentlest voice, she said this to me.
At times, we so greatly wish for people to see where we walk, yet at the same time, we try harder to hide it from them and pray in the depths of our hearts that they will never truly know what we experience.
As frustrating as it is, I am realizing it’s a good thing these people cannot relate to me because to be able to fully do so, they would have had to not only journey beside me through the years as they have done so diligently, but rather physically suffer through exactly what I have over the years.
My mind stopped immediately at this realization. I whispered intently, “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
“Yes,” she continued. “There are times I cannot even tell my daughter exactly what I’m going through. It would kill her to know.”
Oh how true. For example, I have been protecting my these loved ones, shielding them from the worst, ever since I was in elementary school. They don’t know this, and I don’t even want to tell them now. To hide things like this from people so close almost sounds like a punishable wrongdoing. Yet we continue on in order to protect our loved ones, and we hold our breath hoping and praying they will never go through what we have, no not possibly that. Not this. Not anyone, but especially not them.
And so I proceed, journey on, more tolerant of their judgments, tempers, and inability to understand as I strive to daily thank the Lord that they just can’t comprehend what I’ve endured.
It’s not easy; I will assure you of that. But when you love people, it’s really the only option.
May we take pleasure in our sufferings as they draw us nearer to our Lord and Him to us. He has willingly been through anything we could ever face in life just so He can truly, 100% understand what it feels like and in the meantime, guide us triumphantly to the other side.