A Turn in the Suffering :: When We Become Less Identified With the Circumstances

Captiva sunset.

Do you know what it’s like to feel so identified with your suffering that you don’t know how to tell your story without it? 

I do. 

I know what it’s like to be so connected to all the ways I’ve been broken that I can’t see anything else anymore.

Living in the anger. Living in the sadness. Chafing against the injustices. 

You feel like your suffering defines you. It’s the only identity you have.

I also know what it’s like to come out on the other side. It feels like slowly waking up, or watching the misty fog clear before your eyes.

Suddenly, there’s more to see.

For me, each time this has happened, it has been akin to realizing God was able to handle all that happened to me. It didn’t surprise him or faze him. He let me come to him with it and said, “Yes. It’s true. I know.” And then he sat down beside me or walked next to me in the aftermath, attending to the process of carving out a new identity, showing how these things would be connected to bigger pictures

I became less identified with what had happened and more identified with what God could, would, and was already doing with it. 

It makes for a pretty monumental shift.

I’ve experienced a shift like this a few different times in my life, and each time it has felt like a huge boulder being removed from around my neck, and the connecting rope along with it. Instead of being submerged at the bottom of the ocean anymore by the weight of it, I found that I could stand upright in the water, my feet sure on the sandbar beneath me, feeling the cool water and its buoyancy against my skin, surveying the waves and the horizon and the light … free, now, to play.