Shattered and Reborn: Positive Suffering

Melanie Jean Juneau - Suffering

\"Melanie

I once asked a priest what my life would have been like if I had not experienced suffering, if I had married a well-off dentist, had 1.25 kids and lived in an efficient, modern house. He put on a phony, pious face, put his hands together in prayer, and said in a high, mocking voice, \”Oh, you would be a nice Christian lady, praising the Lord.” What he meant by that amusing bit of acting was that I would be shallow, without depth and strength.

If this is the situation, I say bring on suffering, because I want—no I need—to live in reality. I can think of no greater tragedy than to die and discover that I had deluded myself, simply living happily on the surface, eating, drinking, doing chores, sleeping, and yet missing out on the core reality of what it means to be fully alive, fully human, in relationship to other people and to God.

I was just thinking that I have not really written about my pain, the struggle to raise nine kids with little money on a hobby farm. I only really write about the joy of mothering. A friend also pointed out to me the other day that I never really talk about the long, dark periods in my life. I guess it is because joy always triumphs in the end in my life; I tend to forget about the painful years, the years of suffering. The love of little people, strong tea, laughter, and the Presence of God in the midst of chaos seems to crack anxiety and stress, but yes, I have been shattered by the demands of mothering.

Yet God always manages to use those moments when I am shattered to crack my heart and soul open to more of His presence and healing. It is like childbirth; the pain is forgotten when I hold my newborn. If there is no pain, no suffering, there is no baby or new growth in the Spirit.

For me God speaks through books, as well as my spiritual director, and the written word. He has often changed my life through these “tools”, flipped an inner switch by bringing insight and clarity. I then realize that each difficult stage in mothering is normal, not a big deal, because all mothers go through similar experiences. So I am not going through a dramatic or unusual crisis. I can see each difficult stage as a call from God to change and grow by going deeper, accessing the strength of the Holy Spirit within my own heart.

I want to live in Christ, healed, fully alive and strong enough to serve. I cannot tolerate the idea that my life was spent playing games, pretending to live, unable to love, whether as a mother, wife, daughter, or friend. If that means I must experience suffering then so be it.

© 2014. Melanie Jean Juneau. All rights reserved.

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8 thoughts on “Shattered and Reborn: Positive Suffering”

  1. Pingback: The Papacy: The Person Versus The Office - BigPulpit.com

  2. I love this story, as I too feel like suffering shapes us in ways that happiness can not. God speaks to me through books too Melanie! And wow, nine children…how blessed you are Mama!! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Personally, I am relieved that the written word has power in my life, that God speaks to me through books because it really does help to clear confusion

  3. Pingback: Pastoral Sharings: " Presentation of The Lord" | St. John

  4. Melanie, I love your spirit! It is a pleasure to get the chance to read/edit your articles before publishing, because they always inspire me – and seem to parallel what I am contemplating in life. You convey a voice of trust/submission/faith in your stories that reassures me in my own journey. Thank you. Peace be with you. P.S. When you decide to write a book, let me know. I will be the first in line to buy. 😉

    1. I am touched everytime I discover that words have the power to connect hearts, minds and spirits- THANK-YOU. P.S. I am collecting stories and article for several books at the same time, in my usual ‘fly by the seat of my pant’ way of organizing my life

  5. Beautiful! From the Easter Liturgy–“O felix culpa” “O happy fault” It also proclaims “no Original Sin, no Holy Redeemer.” My pain is a gift from God, nobody else can have it and I can’t give it away. I can only offer it up to my Jesus and contemplate His suffering on the Cross for me. To paraphrase Job ……speaking to his wife in Chapter 2………”woman if we thank God for good then we must thank God for the bad, Thanks be to God!………” This has helped me so much in dealing with inevitable pains of aging, the pains of life. It has made the joy of life all the more beautiful by contrast. Thank you so much for this. It has been on my mind very much lately.

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