Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Nani, Nani, Boo, Boo, My Suffering is Worse than Your Suffering!

Alright peeps, this posting has been the hardest thus far for me to tackle, and for that reason it has taken me a couple/few days to complete. But I hope you get what I'm trying to say or as my husband would say, "you smell what I'm stepping in."

So, I have to be honest about my next topic, the topic of suffering. And this is the type of post that's going to be extra vulnerable, which again is scary. There is a significant truth that I have learned about my singleness on this side of marriage. A few of my friends already knew this truth and even told me about it, but it took me getting married to understand it for myself. My suffering isn't worse than your suffering. Now it doesn't take all single people getting married to learn this lesson, but it certainly did for me.

Not that it was a child's game, but the title for this post paints a clear picture of the way I used to see my singleness. That is what I used to think about my singleness, my suffering. Let me lay this out for you. It is a suffering for a woman to be 38 and single and not want to be, and on top of that to be surrounded by lots of 23+ & marrieds. Do you get how hard it is to be that single woman, to be me?! I got older as all the single guys in my church got younger. I have been through so many rounds of watching just about all of my single friends marry off. And although I may not have 27 bridesmaid's dresses, I do have a small collection. Let's see 2 hunter green, 1 silver, 1 kiwi green, 1 watermelon, and a few black. Then there were a few in which I was the friend who did the hair and makeup. All of which was enjoyable and painful at the same time. I have a good many younger friends for which I am thankful, but it was hard to listen to them talk about the struggle with singleness when they were at least 10yrs + younger than me. Okay, so what's my point, to complain? No, but just to make sure you get it. That it IS a profound struggle to be THAT girl.

But now I'm a different girl. I'm that girl, who quite honestly and unfortunately, vomits selfishness all over her husband. I am now that girl, who thinks, maybe if I could spend the day away from him, my best friend and the person I love more than any other, I won't sin against him. I am that girl who thinks she should be praised every time she serves her husband. The girl who, when she fights with her husband, ends up in an intensely angry rage in which she wants to throw something. So, about that suffering that was worse than anyone else's. Yeah, NO it wasn't.

My point is this, that back even less than a year and half ago I refused to be comforted in the midst of my suffering all with a smile and a head nod. I refused comfort from friends, and more importantly I refused comfort from the Holy Spirit. I tried to refuse to allow him to play his natural role in my life. I remember repeatedly and clearly thinking, when my married friends tried to comfort me or share the hardships of marriage, "but at least you're not alone." I sinfully and selfishly refused to hear and be comforted by the truth. I sinfully refused to believe that anyone could identify with my then present sufferings. I repeatedly played the "comparison" game, and I was good at it. I was good at reasoning out in my head how my struggles and sufferings were worse than anyone else's I knew. But what about the woman who although she's married, she won't ever, barring a miracle, be able to have biological children? What about the woman who has those children, one of which is extremely obstinate and exhausting to discipline, and feels alone in the disciplining? What about that woman who is married to an unbeliever? What about that woman who is married to a believer but for whom marriage is extremely hard. What about these women?! Although I felt compassion for them, I still reasoned that at the end of the day, "she wasn't alone in her suffering, and I was." In a very weird way the comparison game brought me comfort, a comfort that leads to sin.

So what about suffering? Well, the truth about suffering, trials, struggles (whatever you want to call it) is this. "...our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in ALL our affliction, so that may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Out HOPE for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort." 2 Corinthians 1.3b-7 Although Paul's letter was written to a specific group of people during a specific time period, it holds eternal truths that we ALL, single or married or widowed, should hold dear. These truths and our good God are the only thing that will bring real and lasting comfort. Dear single friend, you are NOT alone. Christ can and will sustain you.

I hope this post does a couple things for you. I hope that you do not fall into the same sinful trap I did of comparing my struggles and seeking to find comfort apart from Christ. I also hope it will encourage you to look around you and really see people, fellow believers, as they really are. You know facebook doesn't really show us the truth about people's lives. Don't think that just because that single girl posts scripture filled statuses and pics of all her traveling adventures that there isn't a significant struggle there. Don't think that just because that couple in your church is always holding hands and smiling that they never end up angrily yelling at each other.  Don't think that just because that friend was able to have kids that now she has everything. Maybe, just maybe, now that she has everything she may not want it anymore. What I have learned the hard way and what I hope comes more easily to you is that my struggles are not worse than yours, and that with these sufferings there comes a certain sanctification for those who are found in him. And when I say "certain," I mean CERTAIN! He has promised to complete it. We can count on it; we can count on him. It is CERTAIN! Although these present sufferings are hard and pretty much unwanted, they bring us closer to our good God who loves us an unfailing and unwavering love, a love He has laid on us before the beginning of time.