Lately I’ve been swearing a lot.
Don’t judge- it makes me feel better.
I’ve also been thinking about Rob Bell’s last book, How to Be Here. When we hosted Rob on That God Show, I asked him: “How do you be here, when here totally sucks?”
Recently I’ve been doing my own thinking on that question. I’ve been learning a lot about myself– mainly, that I hate discomfort and that I’ll do anything to make the discomfort go away, even if that’s not the healthy thing to do in the moment. While I don’t think this instinct is entirely bad– in many ways it’s good, it’s also true that it potentially robs me of the opportunity to grow and learn on my own journey.
So, I’m working on that. And I’m learning how to be here, when here is the shittiest place you can imagine.
Since I can’t imagine I’m the only person who struggles with embracing the suck and seeing what comes out of it, I want to share with you some questions I’ve been asking myself. This set of questions is what I am using to help myself step into discomfort, and to learn and grow– and who knows– maybe even blossom as a result.
1. What might I possibly learn if I decided not to run from the discomfort, but actually pressed into it?
I don’t believe in a God who keeps putting us through shitty circumstances over and over again until we learn a specific lesson, as if our lives are a sick version of Groundhog Day, but I do believe that if we’re going to be sitting in a shitty situation anyway, we might as well try to learn something out of it. So, ask yourself: is there something I could learn and take with me when this is all over?
I mean, we might as well have something to take home with us, right?
2. What parts of me could be grown, stretched, or evolve because of this situation?
One of the reasons why I resist embracing discomfort is because I always like to be on the move– sitting still is hard for me. However, another form of being on the move that I too often overlook, is the growth and personal evolution that can occur when I learn to sit still for a while.
I want to be growing, stretching, and evolving– so embracing the suck is an opportunity to look for places inside me that might best grow, stretch, and evolve by me taking a moment to just be here.
What about you? Is there a place inside you that could grow or evolve if you embraced being *here*?
3. What aspects of this situation can expand my heart’s capacity to receive and give love?
In my book that comes out next year, I argue that the chief purpose in the life of a human being is to receive and reflect love. Following Jesus is to follow the ultimate expression and essence of love, as we live out his command to give love to others. Thus, love– giving and receiving– is at the core of our identity and purpose in life.
If giving and receiving love is so central to our identity, it can be helpful to embrace the suck and ask yourself if there are aspects of the circumstance that you can use to expand your heart’s capacity to both give and receive love.
If you can exit here while being better equipped to give and receive love there, that’s a win in the end.
4. Where are the relationships where I can find healing from my trauma?
One of the most unhealthy things we do is process grief and trauma all on our own. It is instinctual– as children, we are often taught early on that grieving and being sad is something you’re supposed to go do over there (“come back when you’re done crying”). We carry this into adulthood, and too often try to sort our grief and trauma by ourselves.
It is also true that most trauma happens in the context of a relationship– hurts, wounds, disappointments, betrayals, etc. Because most trauma occurs in the context of relationship, what we must remember is that most healing can only occur in a relationship, too.
One of the best things you can do is find those people who love you most, who love you best, and let them be here, too.
I’m learning not to run away from discomfort– but to face it head on, and to see how I might learn and grow because of it.
While I don’t think we need to sit and wallow or spend an unhealthy amount of time in this place, rushing through it can be unhealthy too.
So, if you’re learning to be here when here is the shittiest place imaginable, pull up a chair beside me, and let’s ask these questions together.
We don’t have to stay here too long, but we might as well learn and grow while we’re here.
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Thank you Benjamin, for this post. 🙂 I’ve been having some problems, for awhile now. Not doing somethings, that I know need doing. Things that would help me and my situation. Well, my mind/thinking, hasn’t been so great lately; but your post here, that has helped me and I thank you for that! 🙂
I know losing the children you had planned to adopt was a kick in the gut… I hope you can find your way out of the suck-zone. Best of luck to you and your family.
Dear Benjamin Corey:
Two years ago, an aged friend told me that the Christ absorbed into himself and bore for us the suffering of the world. As we are Jesus Christ to the world, our calling is to do the same. The faithfulness of our witness to the world is measured by our capacity to bear the world’s pain.
I’m not sure how to relate to this. It weighs upon and yet satisfies me at the same time. Well — somewhat satisfies me.
One application I draw is that if this is so, God’s people need one another more profoundly than we could ever imagine.
I’m still working on how this teaches me to comport myself and my imaginative response to the world in which we live.
I’ve been swearing a lot too, particularly when I am making delicious food for church related functions ( like meal trains). The irony is here I am busting my butt in Kingdom work and if something is going wrong I’m swearing about it.
Yes! This Is the very issue that came up for me today. I spend lots of energy avoiding attacks and difficult situations. How can I defend or protect myself from the pain of my present circumstances? Embrace them! Learn what my defenses hide from me! What are the ugly character flaws that these events bring to the forefront. Then I learn… now is my opportunity to hand over my ego-ugliness to the Holy Spirit to transform me to the Christ-minded person He meant for me to be.
This has been said before. We are not in control of everything in our lives. If any of us are in not to shitty of a place , we can look for those who are in a worse place and be a friend to them. That’s what Jesus did.
When you’re in a shitty place, you just got to get on with life……
Always look on the Bright side of Life….
“Life’s a Piece of Shit, When You Look at It.”
My mom died when I was five. My sister when I was eighteen. I came down with severe Crohn’s Disease at twenty. And had a brain operation for severe meningitis last year. Now I’m in the hospital, my intestines fell out. It sounds like a comedy. Yet Im married, raising four daughters, and living by faith….one day at a time.
Thank you for the beautiful reminder that God doesn’t call us to hide our hurt, because He is big enough to handle it
Also, selfishly, what time next year will your book come out? I loved Undiluted and for some reason thought a book was coming out this year as well
I was supposed to have one come out last year, so you’re right– there is one missing. I terminated my publisher and had the book cancelled because of theological disagreements I had with them.
But, it worked out– I wrote a new book, an as my own biggest critic, I’m actually really excited about this one. It’s scheduled for either late summer early fall of next year.