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Sunday, November 13, 2005

hedgehog collage
Sunday Post ~ "Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional." -- a woman I met last week

Hebrews 4:16

file under: &Sunday Post

24 heads are better than one . . .

Blogger abcd said...

Is Hebrews 5:16 the chapter and the verse? As you can maybe discern I am not up on the bible.

Suffering is not always optional when coupled with pain. Be it physical pain or emotional pain.


Blogger Susie said...

Nikki, I was just thinking of you yesterday. Yes, 5th chapter, 15th verse. Here it is:
OHNO! I put the wrong chapter, anyway. It should be 4:16:
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
Thank you for your gentle dissent. I posted this hoping to generate some discussion. When the woman said this, it stuck with me. And I thought, "I'm not sure I believe that." I do believe it insofar as sometimes some of us seem to choose suffering, rather than changing, when we experience pain; and I do believe that our response to what happens to us is ultimately more important than what happens to us. However, perhaps like you, I began immediately to think of situations where it would be very hard for me to "buy" this position whole-heartedly. You've been in my prayers. I hope your time in the south was beneficial to you as well as to those you helped; I wondered if the devastation would be just too much.

Blogger Squirl said...

Some people believe that you may not be in control of things that happen to you, but you are in control of your attitude. Pain is part of the human experience. However, your response to the pain is your choice.

I love the hedgehog. :-)

Blogger Squirl said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger WILLIAM said...

Happy Sunday Susie (and everyone else)

Blogger little sister said...

Wow, susie! this is totally relevant to me, what with chronic back pain...it's true, my back hurts ALL of the time. BUUUUUT - if I let myself suffer all of the time, the pain just gets worse. I do what I can - physical therapy and the recommended exercises, and the more I do the more I feel like doing, so apparently my doc and the PT guy are correct that this will work. It takes patience - maybe that's the unavoidable suffering - I'm not good with patience ;-) I read a lot about attitude, and I keep reading if you /see/ it as suffering, then it /is/ suffering, so I try to see it differently or just ignore it.

And sometimes I'm compelled to see things differently - like when I'm on the floor doing my PT exercises, it has occurred to me that my carpet REALLY needs to be cleaned lol.

So thank you for an excellent verse in my time of need :)

Blogger Nina said...

I love it!! (Smile) Greetings and thanks to you!
I come here first on Sundays!

Blogger Susie said...

squirl, yes, thank you, very nicely put. Oh, I am a hedgehog collector. They make me smile :)

Right backatcha, william

lilsis, chronic pain is an area where I have to question this philosophy. I am struck by what you say, "if I let myself suffer..." and "I try to see it differently..." I have had severe pain, but never over a really prolonged period of time. My mother does have this, has for years. I imagine it must take heroic effort to overcome it with the mind and the spirit. Good for you, not giving up. Thank you for sharing your story and your perspective, here.

nina, and it's always a pleasure to see you :) "Greetings and thanks" makes my heart happy this morning.

AND TO EVERYONE INTERESTED IN THIS DISCUSSION I would add that it is not EVER up to one person to interpret another person's suffering; or to judge that person for the way he or she handles pain. My pain, my suffering, and my response to it, is between me and my own God, my own spirit. It is up to each individual how and when and whether we make sense of our life's traumas, learn something from them and decide to share them with others (or not). I don't offer this quote as a "scolding" to anyone who is suffering. Just as an interesting thing that someone said to me, and gave me reason and opportunity to reflect on what I believe about the topic.

Blogger eclectic said...

Oh Susie, you are so delightful! I am so often in awe of your ability to fluidly negotiate differing views without belittling any of them, or the poeple who hold them. What a gift!

Pain and suffering may be, in many's eyes, synonymous and indistinguishable. The semantic distinction may, in fact, be merely semantic. What one experiences and identifies as "pain", may be experienced and identified by another as "suffering." And in the legal context, the two are one and the same for purposes of redressing a wrong. "Pain and suffering" is but one component of a compensation award for injury.

Blogger Ern said...

I do agree that to a large extent, we are in control of our own state of mind. It is the reason that things don't make a person happy (at least in the long run).

What I have heard people living with chronic pain or disease say is that they can't control what's happening to them, but they can control their attitude, what they do with their life, how they choose to cope.

I don't think you always can control suffering though. One instance might be loss of a loved one. I don't think you can say to someone in that situation, "oh, just change your attitude."

Thanks for the great discussion, Susie!

(I also posted a quote from a friend today...we must be on the same wavelength!)

Blogger Von Krankipantzen said...

All I know is that from my recent experiences this is totally true.

Blogger Susie said...

eclectic, thank you, you are always so kind to me. "fluidly negotiate differing views without belittling any of them," I think that's called "marriage counseling." Or heck, maybe it's just called "marriage."
These words, "pain" and "suffering" have so many different meanings, in different contexts. I am thinking of pain as an event, and suffering as one possible response. Just one of so many ways to think about it.

ern, I pretty much agree with what you've said. It is in that loss of a loved one that I wonder if suffering, at least for a time (however long or short that time may be), is inevitable. I'm not sure. I have heard someone say that she was not suffering -- grieving, but not "suffering" -- at the loss of her husband, because she and he had agreed that they had more time, more love, more joy than most, and they would respond to the end with gratitude. That blows me away, and I try to believe what she says. It is hard. For me. To think that someone can be that powerful in choosing a response. I hope it is true.

kranki, you can't imagine how happy I am to see you here, and to hear your response. I hoped you would stop in today, and I especially hoped that you would understand, or at least not be offended by this quote. Thank you for your perspective.

Blogger Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Pain is inevitable: its part of being alive and human. The idea that “suffering is optional” seems to me dependent upon one’s definition of “suffering.” One definition of suffering is “to endure death, pain, or distress.” But I don’t think that’s what this phrase (which I’ve heard many times) means. Here I think that “suffering” refers to being tormented by the pain to the exclusion of everything else in life. From that viewpoint, I would agree that suffering is optional.

Blogger Susie said...

ssnick, thanks to you, I found that this quote is credited to M. Kathleen Casey. The woman who said it last week did not attribute it to anyone, and I had not heard it before. I don't yet know who this Casey is; found lots of quotes online from her, but no bio info yet. Anyway, thank you for your perspective. I suppose one view of suffering is as terminal, as fatal. I am still contemplating it as one possible response to pain. I have had a lot of tragedy in my life, more than blogworld knows. Suffering has not been an inevitable response; but I still can imagine that there may be a pain for which suffering seems nonnegotiable, required. Just not sure; and of course, hope I never really find out for sure.

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

I dig your hedgehog. I vote for more special guest appearances by the hedgehogs!

Blogger Dawn said...

Aw, the hedgehog is really cute, and a very nice saying, too.

I want to thank you for saying this: "I would add that it is not EVER up to one person to interpret another person's suffering; or to judge that person for the way he or she handles pain."
I'm constantly being judged for the the way I go about handling my pain from some of my real life friend's, and gotta say,sometimes they suck :)
With so many ways to deal with pain, weather it be physical and/or emotional, who's to say what's right or wrong?
(: hope you had a great weekend :)

Blogger Susie said...

bucky, several guest appearances can be arranged. Hedgehogs are good for what ails ya.

dawn, You are welcome, and point well taken. Most of us are doing the best we can with the hands we've been dealt. A little understanding, compassion, go a long way.

Blogger Southern Fried Girl said...

Man, that is so true and so in keeping with what I am going through right now. It is almost like you gave me a sign that I am doing the right thing.

Blogger abcd said...

I see you have moved on to a new post. But I was compelled to come back and read other's thoughts. Sometimes I find people are quick to judge how other's handle pain. I see it with some of my peers in the medical profession. My mantra with pain and suffering: "Pain is only relevant when it is your own".
None of us know what someone else's
pain is like for them. When I was in New Orleans working triage at the airpot I saw pain both physical and mental. Suffering which I could never put into words.
Lives which will never be the same.
I will forever have those days etched into my mind and soul. "That was pain and suffering"
on a whole new level.


Blogger Susie said...

sfg, I don't know what you're going through, but I am glad that something here has been of some benefit to you, and I wish you well with handling whatever it is you must handle.

nikki, you are so right that no one knows someone else's pain. Whether it's physical, mental, spiritual, it isn't productive to compare and quantify. What hurts, hurts, and requires compassion. I so admire you for giving of yourself in the way that you did, while dealing with such pain of your own. I have friends in NOLA who thankfully, have a home still standing, in which about 20 of their relatives are still living with them, all left homeless, but thankfully alive and with family to reach out to them.
I am sure you are a fine doctor. Docs are too often dismissive of pain; I've experienced that, and my mother has as well. Clearly, you're not one of those. Bless you for your understanding, and keep spreading the word.

Blogger Amy said...

Smart Lady. Even just keeping your chin up a little during the hard times makes them a little easier.

Blogger little sister said...

susie, I don't think my means of coping is a one-size-fits-all by any stretch of the imagination. Since I lived with a father who was in chronic emotional pain and a mother who was in chronic physical pain (and eventually bought into my father's emotional issues), I've decided there has to be a better way - FOR ME. I'm not about to tell someone who is in pain to 'see it another way' or 'just ignore it.' That is insensitive and crass at best. It's different for different people, so my way fits me. My demeanor is such that people I work with were astonished to learn my back hurts ALL the time....I just don't act like I'm miserable with it because I keep thinking I can choose not to be. HOWEVER, the next person in a similar boat just might be suffering because that's how it goes for that person. I can't judge, and I'm always sympathetic when I'm talking with someone with chronic pain of any kind. I hope my listening and being sympathetic will provide a modicum of relief.

I'm not about to tell anyone that their pain is all about outlook and attitude. Sometimes, suffering happens, and when others suffer, I do what I can for that person to ease it. Perhaps it is inevitable....for me, though, I fight it, but I know that isn't for everyone.

Okay. I think I've clarified enough in one comment. Now I have to suffer through some massive filing here at the law firm of Dewey Screwum & Howe....oh. yay ;-)

Anonymous lawbrat said...

I'm a little late in the comments here, but I'll comment anyway.

Susie, you are such a wonderful person. What we know of you here, you are great. Non-judgmental, compassionate, kind, and have a big heart. I know I've become a better person from knowing you. Learning from you. God sure does use unusual ways to do things.
With this injury I now have I've learned alot. Its helped me tremendously to reach out to other for help, when I typically have the 'I can do it myself' attitude. Now I cant. I've been blessed tremendously with good friends, help from my family which was/is very unexpected, a wonderful family doctor who sent me to a different PT, just so much. Wonderful children who ask me if they can do something FOR ME. They have told me to go rest, that they'll do whatever, just to rest. They are boys, 7 and 11, and so compasionate to others...not just me. They give extra money in those charity jars around places, put money in expired meters when we park at a meter and another has run out, open doors for other people, and on and on. I'm not sure how I got so lucky with them. They drive me crazy at times, but mostly I'm so blessed. I'm blessed with friends in my life who offer their help. Its just amazing.
Its been a huge growing experience for me, and its been good.

Blogger Annejelynn said...

I'm writing this one down -


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