Resilience: Beauty in Suffering

I was diagnosed with PTSD, and I haven’t mentioned it before because it wasn’t relevant until this post.  More kids are diagnosed with PTSD than soldiers, but soldiers suffer from it in its most extreme forms and also bring attention to the condition.

Some might say that is not being real if I don’t relay bad days or events, but for my personality, I try to keep it moving forward.  Everybody is different.  Some find it therapeutic to share more. I share what I can, especially if I think it can help.

The warmth and affection that I receive from the people I love and from everyone on social media is comforting.  I know loneliness well, and I think most humans do. I think that outside of religion, solid, consistent community is hard to come by.  Depression, self-absorption, or comparison can easily result, but no one picks these by choice.  If you are a lonely person, I hope you will have the courage to reach out continually, until you find people that encourage you to grow and believe in yourself.  Studying psychology has definitely helped, for me to understand others better and myself, and for me to find the people I can learn the best from.

Perhaps you are not lonely and you can find a college student or elderly person and bring them to dinner every once in a while.  I think that could make someone’s month.

If I can understand people, then I can love them.  Not everything we have to live out to gather, but most lessons we can pay a lower cost and read about.

The lessons that stick out to me from Christianity and perhaps the most moving part of the Bible’s thousand pages, was to forgive.  They don’t understand.  All of Jesus’ life was dedicated to the people resorting to violence on that day — religious leaders, his people, and two disciples.  So in this way, we are our own worst enemy; it’s not the Romans or the governments that come and go, but ourselves.

Maybe the greatest love in the world is to forgive others because they don’t understand and to seek understanding ourselves, to do our own part.  We act how we are, not based on others.  We can set the tone and refuse to be the victim, and have compassion for those who succumb to their trials.  I’d rather things rest on me, because I can change me.  Many things can affect our external state, but what’s inside is more resilient.

It is obvious the war of good and evil is inside.  The moment the battle becomes physical, it becomes antagonistic.  If I attack an ex or attack someone politically, then I have added to the chaos and pain in the world, even if my message were compassionate.  Methods speak too.  If I try to understand, if I show love in the way that you guys have shown love to me, then I can heal what has been broken.  What’s inside that is good doesn’t help if it can only manifest in pain.  We can turn our loss into art or stubbornness into fight for the underdog or for motivation — but we don’t fight against people.  The most important battles aren’t over ideas.  The most important battle is inside.

Fear Leads to Anger, Anger to Suffering:

A young boy saw his mother being punched after another of his father’s drunken nights. This son had it hard all of his life.  He couldn’t read well, and his parents disciplined him for this in unorthodox ways.  He and his youngest sister were constantly teased and picked on by their siblings.  For once though, this youngest son couldn’t take it. At 16, he did the most difficult thing he ever did:  He punched his father.

The abuse witnessed and discord in the home caused a decade or more of extreme hypervigilance and anxiety.  When the time came for this youngest son to have his own family, he asked people along his delivery route in the wealthiest neighborhoods to tell him their one regret they had on child raising, to be sure he could do as much as he could do the right way.  They advised, “I wish I had spent more time with them.  Now that they’re gone, I’ll never get that time back.  They rarely visit; they’re too busy for me now.”

My grandpa was genuinely the nicest man you could meet. I never knew him as a drunken man because by the time I was born, he was a laid-back and sweet man, well-loved by everyone.

My dad’s hyperawareness became a part of my personality, and I didn’t realize how much this affected me until much older.  I stayed inside and I expected the worst from people. Lines between what my parents valued and what I valued blurred together.  No one spent more time with their children than my dad.  Not putting in quality time was a mistake he would never make.

If I thought my dad didn’t try to do what was right for me, I could still love him.  But that is for each individual to decide, what they can forgive.

Over the years, in intense, literal interpretations of Proverbs, there was a lot of violence.  I said everything to make it go away; my more stubborn and aggressive younger siblings got the greater end of this, as they were more honest about their feelings.  There are many other court cases that cover this same ground, the same literal interpretation.

I think that what we dwell on, we can become.  If we dwell on abuse, which is why I generally choose not to discuss it, we can fixate on what was taken away.  This is why I don’t mind reading history once or twice, but most of it is aggressive, chaotic, and an example of what not to do.  So there is no point for me personally to dwell there.  People in the past were doing the best they could probably, and I give them the benefit of the doubt.

The people within the circles I was raised exacerbated my parent’s behavior; there was very little compassion. Platitudes don’t mean anything to the hurting or hungry, and pressing down on behavior without understanding what drives people to it does no one any favors.

Love is the weapon that breaks hearts, and also the antidote that puts them back together.  I have been loved in my 20s by the people like I was raised around and also  by the people that I was warned about.  People have always been trying.

Violence, Good Action > Good Intention:

My dad focused on his fear of losing us, and he became the hurt he was trying to defend us from.  This is a common theme, even in myself.  Gandhi remarked once, how can I hate the British for what is in all of us?  We all fight noble causes, in our mind, but somehow mostly it is outside of ourselves.

The man who wrote Proverbs, his son also became violent.  I Kings 12:11:  “My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”  Solomon had violent proclivities as David did (Uriah and the hundreds that died that day, over Uriah’s wife).  Solomon also struggled with his father’s lust.  But patterns have to die with us. We cannot settle for a life of repetition, by accidentally taking habits into our adulthood.  Intentionality and mindfulness are essential.  We have to prove and vet all things.

Though Jesus saw all the problems within religion, he never stopped showing up and being patient, trying to soften the edges, dealing with the leaders. So if you are within religion, you can be the warmth, the voice of reason, encouraging good action over good intention.  You should not get out if you feel called to what you are called to, because that’s where you are passionate.  Whatever is good, think on those things.  You too can direct the topics of conversation from gossip or politics, to what makes people whole, in or out of religion.

Things are objectively bad and good.  What is objectively bad is for all of us to press down on others, in the way that Westboro has done and said: “If I don’t tell them the truth, then I do not love them.” Confronting others is never interpreted as love, and I have to continually learn that myself.  Being aggressive, even passively, to manipulate behavior is what we would not want done toward us.  We’re all trying. We all want understanding, not implied consequences.

Methods override message, because actions override word.

Softer, More Beautiful:

What I hope to accomplish by writing this is to ask you to love your children more, to physically hold them because it means a lot for children to feel safe and warm.  To compliment, not to only convey information as many Thinkers may – but to use compliments to convey love and attention often.

To break a mind or a spirit, that is such a tragic thing, and to avoid this, we have to be free from fear. We have to encourage those in our families to grow into themselves, not into what would best serve our personality.

Inspire and encourage.  Channel your own hurt in the past to be better for your children by breaking habits, having compassion for the underdog, or producing art or other content; turn suffering into something beautiful. Mercy for others allows us to be merciful to ourselves.  How can we encourage honesty in society if we reproach what comes out, instead of try to understand it?

My dad is the biggest part of who I am today, for good and bad.  I want peace for what he had to experience in his childhood.  We’re all a work in progress, and everyone knows this.  So for all those that encourage and share their feelings regularly, maybe your house isn’t as organized as you had wanted or maybe you don’t look the way you want today.  But you matter the most in a world that is broken, reminding us that there is beauty and depth, healing what has been broken and restoring what has been lost.

 

10 thoughts on “Resilience: Beauty in Suffering

  1. You are a beautiful soul Melody, with a wisdom beyond your years. I really enjoy your YouTube posts (and of course I love Pat!) but these posts on your website speak to my heart.

  2. I’ve been watching your videos and reading your blog for a year, and I’m still amazed to see how loving and giving you are. I even translated some of your posts here into Japanese for my kids, a daughter (age 18) and a son (age 12). Your messages are universal. Thank you so much for sharing, Melody. We are so grateful!

  3. I think that most families are carrying burdens of unpleasant emotional baggage accumulated through the years but would wish their neighbors to believe they haven’t got a care in the world. It’s just human nature I guess. The most important thing that Jesus Christ ever said, in my humble opinion is, “you must be born again”. I found out what He meant by that and it changed my life.

  4. Melody, this was very encouraging to me in a way I am not even able to explain but the Lord knows. So thank you dear one for sharing these beautiful thoughts. May it produce good fruit for many souls.
    You are a Light bearer!
    Keep shining !
    Virginia
    (ForgiveAndLove09 on YT)

  5. You recommend that parents spend time with their children, love them, be honest, and offer encouragement. I have a child, freshman in college, away from home. What are ways that I can show these qualities to them? So far, my couple text messages have conveyed mainly info. And I sent 1 small package of snacks.

    • It depends on the parent. Some parents go far in either direction: One parent could be really strict or hard on kids because they had been taught that in their own childhood. This kind of parent may pass off many duties to their kids that make the parent’s life easier, up to and including their retirement and raising other siblings. “I turned out well” is generally the reason for a hard-line approach. But that’s not a rational argument; it’s, as we all do, turning our preferences into virtues.

      Some parents swing hard in the other direction toward a different type of imbalance, overcompensating for everything they lacked in their childhood or feeling valuable through running themselves into the ground for their kids, and I have seen some children unable to cope in society, with daily or oddball tasks or loss and rejection. So I think each man has to identify where the imbalance is in his own life, examine closely the unsaid messages that were sent in childhood, to try to correct what is lacking, to be balanced.

      We rob ourselves and our children when we focus on examples that back our imbalances.

      For me, it meant a lot to me that my mom visited and cooked for me twice while attending school. Compliments on how your children look, not how a dress looks on them, but on how beautiful inside or out they are, are healthy. Physical touch, definitely, especially when sad – unless they don’t like it – is also meaningful. A listening ear.

      For a college student, they are probably short on time to cook or plan activities, money for books (much less, anything enjoyable), and they may be lonely. Compassion really matters – for yourself and your children.

      It all depends on the student and their personality/love language. So getting to know someone, in my opinion, is the best way you can show love. Because the more you know about them, the more you know what they need and desire. Not only that, but if you know their personality, their strengths will become obvious, so compliments and encouragement will come a lot easier. In this way, you help them become the best version of themselves, not the best to serve someone else.

      In the end, be compassionate with yourself too. Don’t be hard on yourself because we’re human, and understanding is easier than doing.

  6. Hi Melody,
    I’m so sorry you and your siblings had to go through this. Being in love with Jesus and wanting to spend every waking minute with Him not because I have to, but because I want to.

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