In our second meeting of the year, on September 17, 2015, Ridge MOPS heard from licensed professional counselor Becca Coley, MA on struggling well in a talk she called “Diamonds in the Mire.”
Becca began by defining the mire. Mire is heavy, mushy, gross. You just want to get it off. This suffering comes in all shapes and sizes. It may just the day to day hardships of parenting preschoolers! (Notice the parallels between torture techniques used on political prisoners to break them down and parenting – sleep deprivation, repeated questioning, isolation – sound familiar??) But you may also be facing extreme events, like chronic illness, death, marriage troubles, job loss or financial hardship. One way to know you are suffering is to recognize our negative responses to suffering:
- we (try to) avoid it
- we (try to) ignore it
- we (try to) control it.
Imagine if instead we could find diamonds in our mire.
Instead of these negative responses, which if we were honest we would say really don’t help, Becca illustrated the example of her mother as a woman who suffered well. Becca’s mom was first diagnosed with cancer when Becca was still a baby. Despite a very bleak prognosis, Becca’s mom continued to live through her cancer battle until Becca was grown.
So how do we find the diamonds in the mire, how do we suffer well?
- Let Community Into Your Life. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that have lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:24-26. Becca remembers friends of her mom helping with food or finances. After her mom’s passing, these women who had come alongside her mom, stepped in to buy Becca’s wedding dress. Raising preschoolers can be isolating, all suffering can be isolating. If you are going through suffering, be intentional about letting community into your life. MOPS is a great place to find community. If you need to talk with someone about your mire, start with your table leader, mentor mom, or any steering team member. The coffee and breakfast are good, but that’s really why we’re here.
- Trust That God Has Purpose For You. And we know that in all things God works for the good for those who love him, who have been called according to his good purpose. Romans 8:28. God used Becca’s mom to minister to other cancer patients in treatment with her. She would carry around a card with her contact info on it, saying you are not going through this alone. God has also used Becca’s mom’s suffering to enable Becca to encourage and bless others today. But we won’t always know the purpose. It may be to grow you, it may be to encourage or bless others. But we don’t have to know the purpose in order to trust that God has one.
- Grow Through Hope. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5.
- Lean Into God. Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name and you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3. Suffering can make us feel alone and isolated. But remember God is always with us in our suffering. Try not to look at suffering as the mire – the sticky, yucky junk you are stuck in. Remember, suffering can be life-giving. Jesus’s suffering (and death and resurrection) gave us life!
Becca also recommends the following books if you are looking to read more on growth through suffering:
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering by Tim Keller
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
A Loving Life by Paul E. Miller
If you would like to contact Becca Coley, she can be reached at:
Becca Coley Counseling – Licensed Professional Therapist