Society Magazine

"I Am Empty Now; the Suffering Has Emptied Me . . . So Refill Me"

Posted on the 11 February 2014 by Brutallyhonest @Ricksteroni

Nicole DeMille has written a must read piece on suffering... this after being inspired by something said at the Sochi Olympics:

Watching a preview from Sochi, I heard an Olympic competitor say "Suffering is a skill."  The phrase embedded itself in my ear, then my mind.  I'm a pretty forgetful gal, especially after forty, so the fact that I woke up still pondering those words told me that I had to interpret what they meant in my life, and in the life of every Catholic.  Suffering means something to Catholics.  It's not a puzzlement or a punishment like it is for certain ecclesial communities or other belief systems.  And while my sufferings, when compared to those I observe far and wide, look pretty tiny, some of them have brought me quite literally to the ground.  So I think about why I've come out the other side of these events and time periods closer to Jesus, and why now, at 44, the suffering of others hurts me more SochiAgonyofDefeatthan my OWN suffering, and I realize there indeed is, as that young skier said, a skill to suffering, or at least a skill in dealing with suffering.  It begins with recognizing what suffering is, how temporary its nature is, and how powerful it can be when we don't  attempt to compete against our suffering alone.  
We all know the basics of suffering if we are Catholics: join our sufferings with those of Christ, with the sorrows and sufferings of His Mother, and of course, offer our sufferings up for those in Purgatory, or for the pains and battles of others.  These should be automatic and constant practices for us. The skill of suffering, what will make me an Olympic level Catholic, is this: to focus not on myself even at the exact apex of my suffering.  That is the moment, the climax, when union with Jesus is most possible and most profitable.  We can't waste that time on self-pity or panic.  In my sufferings, I need to ask Him what to do, whom to think of, where to put my pain.  Where does this pain go today, Lord? Picture Jesus' face and ask Him: what do we do now?  How do I cross the finish line?  How do I push past the wall of pain that I've hit?  What is my next turn, my next jump, my next move? 
An answer will come.  And not just for that moment, but for your whole existence from that point in time onward.  You will find that you are thinking of life in different ways.  It's not a race or a contest that you want to win to lord over others, but it is a team sport.  We are all working together, just so many of us don't know it.  What a cold thing my suffering used to be.  I would hold it inside like a hard diamond, like a little treasure.  How could I think about anyone else when I was suffering so?  But there is such liberation and such hidden reward in thinking not of oneself in suffering but of others -- and of Jesus.  
Emptying myself out is not a one time, singular practice.  After the suffering has passed and the seas are calm, some remnant, some gift, is there, something left by Jesus.  I've earned a medal, and it's a sense of acceptance.  It's a liberty from selfishness.  It's waking up and thinking of ten different people before I think of myself.   It's processing each and every moment of time in a new way.  Not "What's in this for me?" But "Why am I here in this moment?  FOR WHOM am I here in this moment and in this place?"  I learn, exquisitely, to wait.  To wait for my coaching, my orders, my strategy.  How am I to be a blessing?  A lesson?  A pair of arms?  An ear?  A Catechism?  Tell me, Lord.  I am empty now; the suffering has emptied me . . .  so refill me.  The Olympic event, pushing myself to the limit has emptied me . . . so give me some of You, Lord, so I can get back in there, back in the pool, back on the track, back on the mountain.  I live to fight again, fight for someone's rights, or someone's peace. Or even someone's life. 

You should read the whole thing... and more importantly, make Ms. DeMille a regular part of your blogospheric reading.

She's a wise one.

Carry on.

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