DISCLAIMER: Please keep comments civil and respectful of everyone, as this was not that easy for me to write, or they will be deleted.
In all the most painful experiences of my life, there is one quality that made these events especially painful: the feeling of being rejected. However, I will share these things with you, not as a vie for some attention, but so that you can learn from them too, and triumph in your own bouts with trials and suffering.
Bullying at school: One of my most painful experiences to date was the teasing and bullying I endured at school up until about high school. There is an adage that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Some people I encountered at school said or did things that made me feel less than and not even worthy to be called their friend or confidant, no matter how much I tried to be one to them.
What I learned: From this pain, God has taught me to never reject a hurting person or anyone just on the basis of superficial things like how they look or dress, whether or not they are rich or poor, what sexual orientation they identify with, or on the basis of how intelligent or intellectual they are. God has also taught me how to better use my words and actions to bless instead of curse or condemn. He has taught me how bullying and teasing can destroy a person’s soul and even livelihood! God has taught me how to appreciate people who do love and accept me for who I really am more, and make sure I show them in tangible ways, that they are, in fact, appreciated by me.
Being unemployed or underemployed: Another painful experience in my life was not being able to find, for awhile, employers that wanted to give me a chance to work for them. It’s not that I wasn’t willing to work hard or that I didn’t get along with people. It is just that I didn’t find a good fit for me, and that made me feel depressed and worthless, and that I wouldn’t really amount to anything in this world, which is basically what a teacher in high school said in so many words to me. And I internalized this lie for a long time, extending to even my “work years.”
What I learned: From this pain, God has taught me to value what He has given me now, especially my current job. God has taught me to always work hard in all areas of my life to please Him, but not so I could get saved. God has also taught me to have more compassion and love for others who are still looking for work, or who, for whatever reason, really can’t work, because I learned that it is not easy to look for a job. He has taught me that my ultimate worth comes from Him, not my job or anyone in it. Finally, God has taught me from that experience, to never ever give up, because good things will come to those who are able to persevere, even in the midst of the most difficult pains and trials. For story on how God graciously provided me with my current job, please see this post.
Having family and friends move away: Another painful experience in my life was seeing family and/or friends move away from me. The most painful was having a sibling of mine move to another state. However, these changes have actually helped me grow for the better.
What I learned: From this pain, God has helped me to treasure each moment with the people I love, and also strive to enjoy the people who I am with more, because I now know that seeing them tomorrow or next time is never guaranteed by God. He has also helped me to be more open to meeting and to bond with new people, and made the relationships I have with the people that haven’t left me stronger, in many cases. Most of all, through this trial, God has helped me keep people with an open hand. That is, l learned to let God do what He wants with the people around me, including sometimes taking them away from me, but only if it is His will, and not feeling devastated or hopeless about that prospect, but instead depending on Him for my ultimate companionship.
All these things have helped me be a stronger and more caring person than I was before. I’m not perfect, and I still don’t like pain, but I know that God is there with me through it all. He will be there for you in your pain and suffering too, if you let Him.