Recently, as I sat in. a group, a participant shared that they somehow found strength as they listened to others in the group share about their struggles. Even if the event being shared took place years ago, comfort was experienced by the one hearing as they identified their current struggles in this story from the passband comfort was experienced by the one sharing as they felt understood by those who experience similar struggles today. There is somehow strength, community and comfort gained through shared suffering.
Suffering is experienced to some degree by everyone. We hear stories of soldiers that are reunited years after fighting a battle together and reconnect as if they had never been separated. Cancer victims or survivors of other diseases and illnesses seem to have a unique connection and empathy for one another. As a Christian, one of the appeals of the gospel is the story of a Messiah or Savior that doesn’t just sit and observe my life from a distance, but He has been here and experienced life. He understands firsthand the feelings and emotions that come with rejection and betrayal, with suffering of every kind. I believe that one of the things the Christian church did well in the past was to teach its members the benefits of suffering well together. My vanity causes me to fell the need to put on my best social media face when I attend church, but my heart knows that what I need the most is a place to be welcomed in suffering.
The recovery community was founded on the idea of suffering well together. I’m reminded of a story from May of 1935Told by Bill W. While in Ohio on a business trip Bill W found himself standing in the lobby of a hotel without money to pay his bill or for the bus ticket home. He was staring in the door of the hotel bar and wanting desperately to go inside and buy a drink. The thought that crossed his mind was to choose not to drink but to talk to another drunk. In the hotel lobby Bill W found a church directory and started making calls. He was eventually connected with Dr. Bob. Dr. Bob was a drunk that hadn’t yet experienced sobriety. Dr. Bob agreed to meet Bill W for 15 minutes but their meeting ended up lasting for hours. All Bill W did was share his story while Dr. Bob listened. That night Bill W maintained his sobriety and Dr. Bob began his journey. This is one of the stories shared about the beginnings of AA.
As a coach I am often blessed with the opportunity to share my story of suffering and I am invited to step into the suffering of others. This is what sobriety looks like. Two people attempting to suffer well together. If you need a place to share or your need is to hear a story of hope, let’s talk. firstname.lastname@example.org.