Use Your Suffering As The Source of Your Life’s Great Strength and Beauty

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something has suffered damage, and has a history, it becomes more beautiful — Billie Mobayed, Knowledge is Power.

Did you ever notice how the people whose hardship gives them the most reason for giving up on life often become the fiercest advocates of living? They find meaning in their suffering that actually restores their will to live, rather than destroys it. What is more, many of them say that without having suffered they would not have been able to experience life’s wonder, fully.

Indeed, most of us will have experiences that challenge the integrity of what we know and that in which we believe, just as a result of living. But, some of you may have suffered sexual or physical abuse, the loss of a child, or a turn of events that wiped away the life that you once knew, completely. The cracks in spirit that come from these types of events tear at your heart and weaken your faith and will to live. These cracks are deep and thus harder to fill. You have to ask yourself some tough questions about life, God, and the worth of living, before you are able to muster up the strength and courage to try again.

Strangely enough what at first feels most definitely like a curse, for many, becomes the gift of being fully alive to life’s awe and mystery. That you can suffer so deeply and still come to see life’s beauty is what I believe is meant by God’s grace. And, what is, perhaps, the most amazing of all is that people who get to the other side of their suffering do so without retribution and victimhood. This is the gold that fills your cracks and makes your brokenness beautiful. Take Travis’ story of his “beautiful brokenness“, for example. He says,

“My abuse started when I was 4 and it wasn’t until the age of 34 that I saw the beauty in my own brokenness…30 year journeys can suck. My beautiful brokenness is that I get to enter into other people’s journey’s with a simple yet powerful thought: “me too”. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone and I would never want to relive a moment of it, but I’m grateful that God took something ugly and disgusting and has turned it for something beautiful by allowing me to share in other people’s lives in a way that I would never be able to otherwise had I not gone through what I went through. It doesn’t always make it easier, and I don’t always see beauty in it, but I love the glimpses I do get. “Me too” is healing to my soul. Travis Watson.

Travis is a fierce advocate of life. In fact, he is a pastor, helping others to use their suffering to strengthen their faith in God and living. We don’t have 30 years of his inner journey that resulted in his healing. But, I have no doubt that Travis asked himself some very tough questions about life’s meaning and worth, to get to the other side of his suffering. Like many people do, when circumstances force upon them a crisis in meaning and the will to live, Travis found answers to his questions that helped him to heal. He came to understandings that turned “something ugly and disgusting into something beautiful” and gave him “glimpses” into life’s ultimate beauty.

Travis’ story doesn’t surprise me. I have heard similar stories from people who have suffered life-changing pain and loss and thrived despite it. You may be asking right now, “Is this dressing up your brokenness with golden optimism?”  Most definitely, it is not. You cannot deny or hide your suffering, if you wish to find the beauty in living, despite what happened to you. Actually, the circumstances that have the power to break you so deeply deprive you of your normal defenses.

What is the Psychological Nature of this Damage?

A breakdown in ego–all that you have learned, identified with, and come to believe in has crumbled. You need answers to questions about life’s meaning and worth that gives you the will to live again, rather than to simply exist as a broken shell.

The questions that follow ask you to examine your true nature. Are you more than your suffering? Of course, this begs the question, “Is there something greater than your material and public self that should be guiding your living?”

  1. Are you something other than the things that have happened to you?
  2. Do you have a relationship to something other than the life that you have known?
  3. Is there a greater purpose of which you aspire to in life?
  4. Is there a way that you can live with what happened to you?
  5. Is the good life meant for you or are you just damaged goods?
  6. What is your calling? To what should you devote the rest of your life?
  7. What is the point of striving, after all that has happened?

These questions encourage you to think about living for something greater than your present self and circumstances. This is the only way to minimize your pain and suffering and to heal your brokenness. The more you highlight your psychological and spiritual self into who you are, the more whole you become. You become a great work of beauty and strength—damage and all. Now, we can appreciate much better how one can suffer so deeply and still come to see life’s beauty. Surely, this must be what is meant by God’s grace.

If you liked my post today, please say so by selecting the Like icon that immediately follows. I welcome your experiences and comments. Warm regards, Deborah.


17 Responses to “Use Your Suffering As The Source of Your Life’s Great Strength and Beauty”

  1. avatar Deana says:

    Dr. Deb,

    This is such a lovely article. “Me too” helps me to connect with the children I work with more than anything else. Whenever I evaluate children for ADHD, I share with them and their parents that I have ADHD too. I tell them that I know what it is like to be chastised continuously in school and at home for not living up to one’s potentional; to not be able to do many of the things others do with ease without difficulty; to need minor accommodations to access the parts of my brain that work really well, and to feel ashamed because I still make the same dumb mistakes time and again. Each time I share this part of myself with a family, I worry there is a risk of being perceived as flawed, broken, or somehow defective. Still, it’s a risk I choose to take every time. To date, “Me too” has not yet failed to encourage a worried parent and instill hope in a disheartened child. I tell them about the founder of Jet Blue airlines. He has ADHD too, I say, and do you know he invented the electronic ticket? He did! Their little faces perk up, and I go on with the story. He thought of this idea, after suffering through the frustrating feeling and hassle of arriving at the airport countless times without his paper ticket, I tell them. The list of successful persons who have thrived in spite of their ADHD goes on and on. I’ve received many letters over the years from parents, thanking me for sharing that I have ADHD. They tell me how encouraged their child is knowing that “Dr. Deana” has ADHD too. A number of kids ask that their parents schedule periodic appointments just so they can visit me, and this, after enduring a full psychological or neuropsychological evaluation! This makes sense of the suffering. Though it is not what motivates me to share my story, I find that saying “Me too” ends up filling my broken places with gold too. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. Namaste.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hi Dr. Deana, thank you so much for sharing your personal suffering. ADHD does cause personal suffering as you well know. It does help people to heal, to reveal the ways in which we share their brokenness, especially when it comes from a person whom they respect and love. Thank you for all you do for children who have learning disorders. What a blessing you are to them and them to you. Warmly, Deborah.

  2. avatar Susan Killian says:

    I have often considered that it is sad that many of us do not realize the trans-formative power of suffering… One image that has stuck with me and been a source of reflection and comfort to me is a scene from Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”. The one where Christ receives the cross to carry it to Golgatha… he doesn’t just accept it he embraces it like a precious gift. Embracing suffering takes courage and at first seems counter-intuitive but it is an invitation to new life. There is no Easter morning without the tomb…. you cannot have new life without first dying to the old one… the “dying” part is never easy or comfortable but it is the only way to become who you were created to be… IMHO… I appreciated the article!

    • avatar Marion Langlo says:

      Sue…how insightful…the threat of pain keeps us from embracing the “thought” of it, however the reality of life doesn’t let us escape it. This was a very helpful article.

      • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

        Hello Marion, I’m glad Susan invited you to read this article today. Yes, the threat of pain does keep us from seeing the value in suffering. I’m glad you found this post very helpful. Please stop by again. Warm regards, Deborah.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Susan, “embracing suffering is an invitation to a new life”. Thank you. You are so right, it is sad that the transformative power of suffering is missed by some people. Suffering does give us awareness as the meaning of dying to the old, so that the new–more healthy and inspired life can be lived. thank you for your wisdom Susan. I am so glad you stopped by to read my post. Warm regards to you, Deborah!

  3. avatar ayesha says:

    very right article….
    butthe problem with me is this despite of knowing all the facts and set my priorities… m still unable to remain stick with them any more… i know that incidense isnt of so much worth but it just seems to be the out of control impulses…..

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello, thank you so much for visiting me today and for your comment. I’m glad you found this article helpful to you. I have an article that I just wrote called Becoming Mindful that may help you to understand better that we tend to act on our impulses because we are not present we are unable to reflect upon them ahead of time. Becoming mindful of how your mind works is one way to conquer your impulses, although it does take practice. I look forward to seeing you again here. Warmly, Deborah.

  4. There is a lot of truth in what was written above, one does appreciate the little things in life more if one has been through “hell”

    One appreciates good people more and is thankful.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Rosemary, you are so right. The priorities in our lives become very clear, when we have suffered. What really matters simplifies our lives and shows us a way out of our troubles. Thank you Rosemary. Warmly Deborah.

  5. avatar Shuaib says:

    This is a very good article. I always believe in trying to make life better rather than quitting but in my case suffering keeps on increasing and no matter how much i try neither can i stop it nor can i reduce it. I don’t know how long i will be able to keep myself strong and fight the non stop obstacles in my life whose solutions are very difficult to find as nowadays i often feel fear of losing my mind and as days passes by i keep loosing my self confidence and self esteem which was once very strong. But when i read such articles i feel good for a while so thanks a lot for sharing such articles. I hope someday i find help or a way out of my sufferings.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hello Shuaib, thank you. I’m glad you find this article helpful. I know it is very hard to keep ourselves going as there’s so much loss and change in our lives. I pray you do find a way out of your sufferings someday Shuaib. I know the only thing that keeps us going at such time is faith. If my words in any way lifted your spirit to see more light ahead, I am pleased. Be well my friend. Warmly Deborah.

  6. avatar Matt says:

    I suffered a nervous breakdown two years ago. At 42 with a wife and two beautiful children, I’ve been told things will never be the same for me again a result. My story is reflected in these words. The “filled cracks with gold” metaphor is one of the beautiful things I have read in my 2 years of therapy. Seeing a little beauty in my life sounds like what I need to do. I’d like to purchase one of these pots for personal inspiration on my journey. Please let me know if anyone has any suggestions for dealers of Japanese crafts.

    • avatar Dr. Deborah Khoshaba says:

      Hi Matt, I’m so glad that this article helps you to see that there is beauty of meaning, experience, and recovery in all of life’s experiences. You know Matt, I believe and know (first-hand) that life’s challenges can bring us a depth of wisdom, understanding, and compassion for other human beings that can come no other way but through the cracks in our lives. You got me thinking about finding one of these Japanese crafts. I will write you bak when I locate something. If you find something before, will you let me know? Also, did you see the movie Silver Linings Playbook? I bet you did. But if not–go see it. It’s wonderful and speaks to what we are saying. Warmly Deborah.

  7. avatar zoobi babar says:

    You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday’s junk


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