Suffering is not wanting to get up to go to work.
Suffering is being a relationship that doesn’t make you shine.
Suffering is battling illness.
Suffering not having enough money to live the life you want.
Suffering is dealing with toxic people.
SUFFERING IS A STATE OF MIND.
It is easy to feel trapped in situations. Feeling stuck in a job you don’t want or a relationship that doesn’t provide the kind of love you need seems almost normal. Dealing with the repetitive cycle of waking up to a life that you don’t recognize…a life that you don’t remember choosing can be heartbreaking. It’s easy to wonder, ‘How did I get here?!’ The reality is that our lives are a result of a series of choices that we have made. Even if we could not have changed certain situations that happened to us, we still have a choice in determining how we deal with the situation.
So suffering becomes a thing we do unconsciously. We may try to cope by eating sweet things, drinking alcoholic things, buying things we don’t need, or doing things we later regret. We do these things in an attempt to escape a reality that we don’t want to face. We don’t see that the prison is one we’ve made for ourselves.
But pain always spills over. We don’t even realize that, in our suffering, we feel a little better if we make another person suffer too. We feel less alone in our struggle. It may even be a struggle that we don’t understand. We may not even realize that we want the other person to suffer too.
We desperately want to know how to stop suffering. The only way to do this, quite simply, is to make different choices. But change is hard. We want all of the things that we think are making us comfortable. We don’t want to let go of the safety nets that we’ve created for ourselves. Our thoughts of victimhood comfort us. Our possessions can trap us.
I remember the moments leading up to my move from Cape Verde. I’ll admit that I had a few vehicles that I wasn’t sure how to let go of haha But I had to ask myself, was this car or that motorcycle worth my freedom?
Letting go is never easy. We learn to become comfortable in our suffering. It is familiar. It’s a known quantity. Change can feel like Pandora’s box. If we let go of all of these things, what will be left of us? How will we define ourselves? How do I start over? What if I fail?
The thing is, failure is always measured based on our expectations. We can get our cues from society — seeking to emulate what we see on TV and what we hear in music — but this is very dangerous. You are making a conscious choice to define yourself based on other people’s standards. First you have to define what success looks like to you by more value based metrics. Is it financial freedom? A love without betrayal? A career based on providing services to others for causes you believe in? It is necessary to get beyond the images of success based on the car, the house, or the job title. These things are meaningless. And when you obtain them, you will quickly focus on the next thing you need to acquire. Desire and suffering go hand in hand. Both know no bounds.
Suffering is also caused by worries about others. Worrying about others is a distraction. It gives us something to do to avoid cleaning up our own house. Worry is useless.
So break free of your prison by flipping the script. Shake yourself out of your normal patterns to gain perspective. Take bold moves to get free. Let go of the ties that bind you. Even if you don’t feel able to make a life change right away, focus on making small changes in your thought patterns. Remember that you’ve survived all of the times that you thought would break you. God is faithful. Remember that everything you’re enduring is optional. Break yourself out of the prison you have created for yourself.
The world is big and possibilities are endless. You are only bound by the limits you place on yourself. With faith, you can experience more than you thought was possible. With faith, you will find that everything you need comes to you when you need it — no sooner and no later. All we must do is trust that and be as willing to let go as we were to receive.
Placing a butterfly in a jar is unnatural. Seeing a butterfly fly free in nature is true beauty. Don’t place yourself in a jar ;)
Photo source: butterfly