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Jun 8·edited Jun 8Liked by Laura Kelly Fanucci

That even when the suffering feels like too much and I feel crushed by the cross I don't want to carry, God in taking on our pain on the cross is shielding me from having to bear so much of it. The cross is so much bigger and so much heavier than I know or feel, because He is enduring the brunt of it. He is more pained by the deaths of my children than I am in my deepest, gut-twisting grief. Painful as it is, I have only a sliver of this great suffering and tragedy to bear for myself. And I still don't have to bear my part alone, because grace pours out and strengthens my muscles and my steps.

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Natalie, this is so beautiful and profound. I honestly have never pondered the idea that the cross could shield us from the depths of deeper suffering—you’ve given me much to pray with. Grace always comes with new mercies each morning, and you’ve given this to me today!

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How you seamlessly wove gerunds into this is why I love you!

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The fact that you noticed this is why I love you back!

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"I have found more of God in becoming, and unbecoming, and becoming anew." Here I am in my 70s and I finally realized in the past few years that I also have found more of God in becoming, unbecoming, and becoming anew. Through study of theologians, writers (you are one), a wonderful therapist, and time for deep contemplation, God is pained by the suffering we suffer (Jesus wept about Lazarus).

I loved your statement, "God does not cause grief or desire the death of any of us; thump your Bible for that truth if you need to see it writ plain." My early and adult life in church I always heard that God brings about all the bad that happens to us because we are sinners. I am happy to say that over the past twenty years of searching, reading and reflection, I now know that this is not true. That epiphany has been part of my becoming anew. Up until that point in time I could not wrap my head around why would God cause children to suffer with cancer, developmental and physical special needs, and the list goes on. Innocent children. Adults and suffering bothered me, but not like the children. And then our family faced a diagnosis of my now ten year old grandson who was born with such severe medical and intellectual needs that was when I sunk to lowest levels of belief. Thank God I have become anew and marvel at the gifts my ten year old grandson has brought to us. Even in the valleys there is beauty.

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I've had several experiences that have been traumatic. I cared for both my parents many years. Mother had Alzheimer's for 18 years. As the disease progressed, there were many losses and points of grief, yet there was no time to stop to grieve until after her death. I have a son who was in two deployments to Iraq for the war. Each time he came home there was less of him. He is disabled. I've had breast cancer. Lost both breasts. I did not need further treatment except two separate reconstruction surgeries. A grandson with severe mental health disabilities. He is currently in a center for threatening suicide. A long marriage (41 years) with more bad experiences than good. From 2014-2019 he went through a major depressive episode-refusing medication until 2019. Now, he's refusing again. And I live with the thought of at what point will he go off the deep end again. He refuses medication, he refuses any treatment. He absolutely will not discuss with me or the doctor. He does not connect. There is no intimacy. Ultimatums and reasoning do not work. So that is the harsh stuff.

I love my church. I sing in the choir. I'm in a support group. I am a huge reader and maintain two blogs. I do craft stuff and fine arts. I have wonderful friends. I have my own bedroom/room to enjoy and feel at peace in. I have cats that are more like children. I am a prayer warrior.

What have I learned? God sustains me. He equips me. Focus on Him and not the people or problem. It is okay to enjoy life and rest. Be thankful. Stay in God's Word. Keep going to church. And His grace really is enough.

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You have so eloquently expressed some of the things I’ve been wrestling with and am begrudgingly accepting. (Or at least, begrudgingly acknowledging.) When small miracles are dripped into our days while we beg for a flood of supernatural healing to sweep away our suffering, when it feels like the creator is holding out on us because living seems so much harder than we want it to be, when I fight against the awful law of existence (or, the awful grace?) that character is built in grief and challenge — well. Really?! Why, God?

Most of us would never choose the path of death, whether of babies or dreams or health, maybe not even knowing ahead of time the depth of character and compassion and theology that would develop along the way. In this moment, it feels significant that Jesus willingly set his face toward Jerusalem to walk toward his own suffering and painful death.

I super loved your words about upward vs downward mobility — especially thinking about how oddly equalizing pain and grief turns out to be. If God comes near to the brokenhearted, then he has a way to come near to all of us.

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Corrie, your words here touch me so deeply. I know you know this all too well, too. And your last paragraph has stayed in my head all morning. You say this so much more succinctly than I could, and every syllable is true. Thank God for that strange accessibility that comes from the (terrible) democracy of suffering. We all wind up there, so of course that is where God is waiting to be found.

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Your curls are beautiful, evidence of your continued becoming. I, too, have experienced (am experiencing) suffering. Don’t we all to varying degrees? This essay was a lovely reminder that God is there always.

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Amen. And thank you, Karen. We all find ourselves in these places of suffering, yes. Thank God that God is there, too.

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Your writing is beautiful; beautiful to read but even more beautiful to feel. Profound is proper because you call out and describe so accurately the visceral feelings of an experience. Suffering is THE experience. I believe God delights in our joy, our happiness but He reveals and gives Himself to us fully in/during our suffering. Why is this so? Maybe because He knows we absolutely cannot survive some suffering unless He is in it with us. Even if we don’t want to accept Him, He is present. The terrible beauty of suffering.

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I have had this visual return over and over, of my faith being a worn down house, parts of which have had to be completely torn down. And yet, in the midst of all that rubble, there’s been a sturdy foundation underneath it that’s held me up. I’m still trying to figure out what the house looks like, and in this I often think of the C.S. Lewis quote about us thinking God is building a cottage, when what he’s after is a palace. I often wish that we could just be done already. The construction zone is a mess, and sometimes demolition hurts dreadfully. But the things that are being rebuilt? I think they’re going to last.

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My griefs and sufferings have taught me that God has big shoulders. My ranting and raving towards God brings me closer than any efforts to bear suffering patiently.

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"God has big shoulders" - I can't stop thinking about this, Sandy. Thank you for this beautiful truth. (And from one who rants & raves at God much more than bearing anything patiently - solidarity!)

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I read that our suffering brings us close to the cross, close enough for the kiss of Jesus. That's a visual I use when things seem especially hard.

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Lisa, I got goosebumps when I read your words. Close to the cross, close enough for the kiss of Jesus, whew!

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This is a beautifully written essay which speaks to a woman in true and honest relationship with God! Our lived experiences are where we encounter, learn, and grow in our love with and for Jesus! I hope your readers can recognize this in their own lives. All the dogma and doctrine cannot teach us what Jesus can teach us through our daily encounters with Him. All the good and all the bad.

Thank you for starting my day with such an honest and true experience of the holy !

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I was trying to find an eloquent or at least coherent way to respond to the question you (Laura) posed in today’s reflection— luckily for me, Janice was able to find a way to speak to the words on my heart. So I will just say “ditto” and “amen”. When I was young, my best friend joked that that adage “God only gives you what you can handle” must have meant God knew we couldn’t handle anything because, at that time, our lives were incredibly easy. Although I long for the easy life, I am grateful for growing up in a faith of an ever loving God who I knew would be there for me. As I grew older, sure enough, life happened, and God did too. I converted to Catholicism as an adult, and the church’s teaching on suffering, the Saints, and the Blessed Mother have been true gifts.

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Laura, let me say first that your chemo curls are just lovely. Like something about which Anne of Green Gables would wax poetic. Second, you may never know how much your words touch others, but I want you to know, though my small and inadequate words, how much you sharing your heart in your writing has comforted my broken and grieving heart. Thank you for sharing your life, your prayers, your witty turns of phrase, your sense of humor, your truth. We lost our fourth baby earlier this year, but unlike the first three that were early losses - which warrant their own kind of grief - our baby Giavanna Marie died just a day before our scheduled c-section, so I had to deliver her stillborn. Knowing your story and the story of your beautiful daughters was a great comfort, real COM-passion. The book you and Franco lovingly gave to the world is a gift and a grace to hearts like ours too. I feel your words in this essay deeply. The grief has changed me fundamentally, but by God's grace it is making me more open, not less. The meaning of the Cross is being revealed in ways I know I could only discover through this suffering. Paradox and gift.

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Your experience resonates with me. I have experienced becoming, unbecoming and becoming anew. Walking through suffering drives this creativity. It seems to me that the Spirit awakens us during suffering moments and seasons and alters our paths. In the awakening we are redirected toward new thoughts, ideas, purposes. As we suffer, she brings silver linings, bits of joy, and human angels if we let her.

Motherhood unraveled me. I had three daughters but didn’t know how to mother them. Despair gave me choices, end my life or find a new way to live. I took the hard road of counseling to find a new way. Spirit came with me. I knew I came out the other side when bits of joy came into view. The work gave me a softer view; first of my children, then of me, then of my relationship with my husband. My recreated self was more authentic. Not perfect, just more authentic. This new self found a new path as a teacher.

Breast cancer and a year’s worth of treatment as I neared retirement, unraveled me again. And once again, the Spirit came along side me, and gave me a way to endure the treatments. She brought people back into my life who had walked that path. Their simple encouragements, and kindness helped me reach out with hope to the people who were in the chairs next to me in the chemo room. I am a survivor, almost 5 years out! The experience changed me. My stamina is not the same, but I have been recreated again. I don’t teach children any more, but I come beside cancer patients and listen to their journey and share a bit of mine. I don’t drive their bus, but I understand the suffering and can extend a hand to hold or help.

I have not walked through the grief you bear. But I trust the same Spirit will guide me when it comes.

Thank you for honestly sharing your experience. It makes connections. ❤️

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Your articulation makes me feel less alone. It is in people that I know God is holding me. I had not thought about the times that I have been remade in such terms. I too had post-partum issues, I did not have cancer but had about 6 years of surgeries from little know diseases and my body is scarred, and most recently my marriage has come undone and my whole sense of reality with learning my husband of 24 years has been decieving me about our finacnes intentionally for 17 of those years. It has been the worst pain I have ever felt. The only time where I have felt that I cannot fight, keep going, and wishing I didn't have to wake up everyday. Yet, every unbearable day God has been present physically through the women in my community. He knew I need women. People who don't even know what is happening have brought me meals, people who know have helped me figure out how to take a next best step. My mom has come and slept next to me to calm my fear and anxiety. I am still unbecoming and it is the most painful, forced unbecoming I have ever felt...I cannot see anything good can come from it. And my kids...my kids...to witness and try to figure out how to support them through their unbecoming in this situation has been...almost too much.

I hope and pray we find something "anew," but though I am unsure of it, I know my god is with me because I have felt him the entire time...close.

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“Only now, when I carry a new exhaustion in my bones, when I reach my own limits by day’s end in a determined, defined way I never knew before, do I realize and remember again:

Oh, right. I had cancer. Everything is different. “

I have had this exact same conversation with myself. Thanks so sharing- it reminds me that I’m not the only one.

And through all of this, the thing I have learned over the years- wether it be my parents divorce, marriage issues, ministry hardship, cancer- God is ALWAYS near. He walks with me.

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Love this so much, your writing always helps me put into words how close God really is to the broken hearted .

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