There are two central things about the essentialness of suffering.
If you can face your suffering, you'll overcome it.
If you can experience the love of God, it will restore you.
The cause of our suffering is our inability to face it. When we stop and face our suffering, we learn what it is trying to tell us. What is our suffering trying to tell us? Suffering reveals that, at our core, we don’t believe we are loved. And if we don’t believe we are loved, we must then learn to hide, to protect, to play the game that looks like love, but doesn’t risk anything necessary in order to really open up to love.
We can spend a long time in this game of distrust, running from the very thing life is about, because we are not able to get out of our self-centered, protective mode in order to be free to love and be loved. It's not an easy process learning to drop our guard in order to be loved. Sometimes it takes a drastic wake up call to stop us in our tracks, and turn us towards something other than the dysfunctional kind of love we've learned. That's what my breakdown was about. It was the beginning of a new direction in my life.
There are so many ways God has challenged me these last four years to drop my defenses and surrender more to Him, in order to be more in the flow of God's love. It's a little strange how estranged we are from love, and how much suffering it takes to wake us up. What wakes us up is the pain of our dysfunction. Suffering reveals the path of healing, because it reveals what we need healing from. That’s also why a part of the goal is becoming more aware of our whole self, by understanding the parts of our personhood. Those parts are the three Centers of Being and Knowing.
Fear in all these parts reveals the lack of love in all these parts, heart, mind, body, soul, and spirit. Though fear is at the bottom, it often manifests in these parts as other things. Things like pride, hate, depression, anxiety, apathy, and a sense of worthlessness.
It's been four years since my breakdown. It's been four years since I've experienced any panic attacks. Until the last two weeks. For the last two weeks my panic attacks have returned. The first one startled me awake in the middle of the night. I woke up in the middle of a panic attack. In that moment, I heard God speak this into my thoughts, "don't run from this." It's taken some time to understand what that meant, and what God is doing by revealing this suffering and fear.
Most of the work God has done in me the last four years has dealt with dysfunction in my heart and mind. But these recent panic attacks have begun the work God is doing in my body. Because of the physical abuse I experienced as a kid, from my dad, I developed a degree of disassociation in my body. These recent panic attacks have been God inviting me to be more embodied. Coming back to my body has been triggering and fearful. But I've learned to trust God enough to this point to go through this. I think that's why God has waited till now for this work. Though I don't have a lot of trust to feel safe in my body yet, I do have a lot of trust that God knows what He's doing. It's scary to feel everything I'm feeling, but not as much when I know that Love is leading the way.
Transformation is painful. Most often, healing hurts. It takes a great degree of trust to step out of our hiding places and into the light of God's love. But knowing God is good, and God knows what He's doing makes all the difference.