Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Self-imposed Suffering

Today, in my women's study on suffering we learned there are three causes of self-imposed suffering, according to Fr. Richard Gill:

1.  A victim mentality - We see ourselves as victims and are always looking for someone else to blame.

2.  A fantasy view of human life - Adopting a romantic, "Hollywood" view of the world that is bound to disappoint us when it doesn't come true; thinking that life is beautiful and that it ought to be that way.

3.  Self-pity - Feeling sorry for ourselves, being obsessed with our own weaknesses and defects, comparing ourselves unfavorably to others, not taking responsibility for our own personal growth.

Then we considered the question, "Is there any suffering in your life that is not part of God's will for you?" 

It is a question worthy of reflection.  It makes plain emotional and psychological sense to minimize suffering when possible.  It also hinders the fruitfulness of the suffering God intends.  So, figuring out whether you are suffering unnecessarily is time well-spent. 

According to Jacques Phillipe in Interior Freedom, "People who haven't learned how to love will always feel like victims; they will feel restricted wherever they are.  But people who love never feel restricted...We feel a natural revulsion for situations we cannot control.  But the fact is that the situations that really make us grow are precisely those we do not control."

In The Promise, Fr. Jonathan Morris details three means by which we can suffer in seven ways:

Means by which we can suffer: Physical (through our senses)
                                                   Emotional (through negative emotions)
                                                   Spiritual (through perceived distance from God)

Seven ways we suffer: 
1.  Trifles (discomfort, annoyance, boredom)
2.  Failures and personal limitations (include victim, fantasy, and self-pity mentalities here)
3.  Lost love
4.  Sickness
5.  In face of sin and wickedness
6.  Meaninglessness and depression
7.  Death

Okay, I'm all "talked" out on the anatomy of suffering for today. 

In a nutshell, there are a lot of ways we can suffer, and some of those ways are self-induced.  If we are suffering in ways that God does not intend us to suffer, we need to stop it.  We need to be aware of the three trap mentalities, which are simply living ideas that hold partial truths.  Be completely truthful with yourself.  I know Hollywood has more influence than I want to admit...

If you fall into victim-mode, fantasy, or self-pity, shake hands with reality and shake off all untruths.  Write down the truth and carry it around with you if you need to.  Ask God to show you where you've been duped.  The devil is sly and content with any small deviation from truth.  In fact, he prefers small deviations; they are less likely to arouse suspicion.  2+2 = 4.  Don't settle for 3 or 5.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for time to gather with other women and delve into Your Word and Your Truth.  Thank you for the promise that the Truth will set us free.  Lord, give us the courage to look within and truly see the errors of our heart.  In our insecurity, it is easy to look around or use reality TV as a measuring stick.  Sometimes, it is hard to know what is influencing our thoughts and actions, because we're influenced before we give our permission.  Please be with us Lord.  We want to be free, so we want to know and live the Truth.  Give us the grace to know what that looks like for each one of us.  Increase our love, so that we may never be victim to another.  Increase our faith, so that we may trust You in every circumstance.  Help us to live in reality at all times.  Thank you for all.  Amen.

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