Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The Difference

Thank you to all of you who sent words of encouragement in response to my last post! I appreciate being able to struggle out loud here--and your loving words lifted me up and comforted me.

This week I have begun my new work and it feels good. God's grace is sufficient for me. I know that I have much to learn and that the coming months will take me time and time again outside the world I'm most familiar with--a world of sunlight and dogs and children and the sound of Mario games playing in the background. It's also taking me beyond a world of words--the world in which I've made my living for 20 years--and putting me, face-to-face and heart-to-heart, in touch with people. The second half of my career is moving me out from behind the computer screen and giving me the gift of presence. I know myself well enough to know it's something I yearn for and also something that will stretch me more than I can imagine right now. It's a big step. It's a big risk. And it requires a big belief: If God leads us to it, He'll lead us through it.

The most important thing I learned last week came in an AHA! moment. It's this: The difference between pain, which all of us have to greater and lesser degrees throughout our lives, and suffering, which is intense pain with little hope of good in the future, is that suffering is pain in isolation. We may not be able to do much about another's pain except go through it with them, but in so doing, we each have the power, through compassionate care, to cure another's suffering. By simply being with them and listening, we keep their pain from becoming suffering. Isn't that a powerful thought?

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