Learn To Be “Really Good” At Suffering

One of the books I’m reading right now is Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. Once I finish it, I’m going to share more about the book itself. However, in the very first chapter he interviews a woman named Amelia Boone. This wonder of a woman is an obstacle racer and endurance athlete. She has won the World’s Toughest Mudder 3 times, was the Spartan Race World Champion in 2013, and is one of the most decorated obstacle runners in history. Oh, and she’s a full-time corporate attorney. (If you would like to read more on her accomplishments and then feel the need to run 10 miles, here it is.)

She is clearly a very impressive person, but what really stuck with me was one of her quotes Ferriss included-

“I’m not the strongest. I’m not the fastest. But I’m really good at suffering.”

I’ve really got nothing in common with this woman- I’ve never even been camping because I like the comfort of a traditional restroom. So, I can’t even begin to comprehend the mental, physical, and emotional strength it takes to accomplish what she has. I do not have any bit of desire to even run a 5k much less pay to participate in some of these ridiculously difficult competitions. However, regardless of the lack of similarities- I think she’s on to something about the whole being “really good at suffering.”

Truth is, suffering is universal. No matter gender, age, occupation, religion, political affiliation- everyone suffers at some point in their lives. We don’t plan for it, but it happens. We endure relational hardships, we lose jobs or clients, we experience failure, and we all have to learn to deal with it to be able to move forward.

As most of you know, I’m a pageant girl. I competed at the state level 5 times- three in the Miss America System and twice in the Miss USA System. I gave blood, sweat, and tears because I wanted that crown. It was a dream and it was a goal and I was gonna do it no matter what it took. I WAS GOING TO BE MISS ALABAMA. (Spoiler alert, God had other plans.)

But here’s the thing about pageants (and a lot of things in life)- we don’t have control over it. We can show up, do our best, but it is still out of our hands at the end of the day. My first year at Miss Alabama I didn’t make top 12 and I left devastated. My confidence took a beating, but eventually I got over myself, my hurt pride, and got back on the horse. The next year I didn’t win, but I did make top 12. I continued to compete 3 more times and I made top 15, top 12, and top 10 at the other competitions. I didn’t win, but each year it got easier to accept not winning. I learned to “suffer” well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working on accepting failure gracefully. However, I realized it was out of my control, I learned to lean on God and His plan, and not what Bailey thought was best.

Here’s why I’m including this blog on suffering in my “Things Every Woman Should Do Before She Gets Married” series. For a long time when I would experience failure or suffering, I would lean on my relationships. I would bury my hurt feelings and distract myself with my boyfriend because it was easier than actually learning to accept failure and become better through it. I wasn’t learning to suffer well; I was trying to skip over the disappointment and the opportunity to grow.

Here’s the thing and it’s hard to accept, but I think we need to feel the suffering. I think we need to learn to suffer well. Distracting ourselves from our disappointment and failures only stunts our growth. We may be able to distract ourselves from our current upsetting situation, but we cannot out run it forever.

So, how do we learn to be “really good at suffering”? How do we reach the point where we can truly experience disappointment or failure, take it by the horns, and emerge stronger?

  1. Stop running.

Don’t use people or things to escape the “not fun” parts of life. Learn to be open to feeling the pain because the sooner you start feeling it, the sooner you can become better at dealing with it.

2. Give it to Jesus.

I’ve learned that God’s always got a plan and 10 out of 10 times it’s better than mine (even though I seem to forget that). Whatever failure or disappointment you’re experiencing, learn to come to Him in prayer and He may not take the pain away immediately, but through surrendering, you are going to begin to feel peace again.

3. Move forward.

I think it’s important to take time to analyze situations, ponder what you could have done better, and plan what you will do better. However, don’t dwell in that place of hurt forever. Once you’ve identified the lessons that were learned- move on with life.

In summary, suffering is not a fun topic, but I feel it’s necessary. Once we learn to suffer well, life will be a much easier ride because you’re braced for it. I hope you start giving everything over to Jesus- the good and the bad. Regardless of your circumstances, He does have a plan and purpose even through the valleys and lows of life.

“I am sure that our suffering now cannot be compared to the shining-greatness that He is going to give us.” Romans 8:18 (NLV)

 

 

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