When we’ve been in physical or emotional pain for years or decades, it’s easy to lose hope. The longer you try to make things better, the worse you can feel. You’re probably wearing, “This isn’t working” glasses.
Sterling describes why your brain does this and ways that you can feel better about the current situation. She talks about acceptance, seeing your progress, and walking more closely with the Lord. 

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Hi, and welcome to the Made for Greatness podcast. I’m your host today, Sterling Jaquith. And today I wanna talk about long suffering and I wanna talk about it in two different forms. I wanna talk about the long suffering of physical pain or health issues and the long suffering of a relationship. So either a painful marriage or a strained relationship with your mom, or maybe a friend that you’ve had kind of a tumultuous relationship with. So either physical or health, pain, or relationship pain that has been happening for years and years, maybe even decades. And I wanna talk about how we can notice our mindset about long suffering. We do a lot of coaching on this. We do a lot of coaching on autoimmune diseases and challenging marriages and things that have been happening for a long time. I think this could also apply to having children with intense, special needs, where you are constantly problem solving and watching them be in pain, creates pain for you. And what happens is when we experience challenges that last for many years, it’s very easy for us to lose hope. It’s very easy for us to become bitter. It’s very easy for us to put on glasses that say this isn’t right, this isn’t fair. This shouldn’t be happening. Why isn’t this better? I’ve tried everything.

I’ve worked on this for so long. And we just view it in this really negative way. And the cross ends up feeling even heavier as the time goes on, because we tell ourselves things, this should be fixed by now. Why isn’t anything working? And a lot of times I find that we tell ourselves that it’s getting worse, but then when I ask our clients, well, how is it getting worse often? It’s not that the facts of this situation are worse, but that the time that has passed is so defeating, we feel so bad about it. And so our attitude about the situation is worse. Our hope is less. And so we say that it’s worse because really we started out with some out of problem solving or optimism or hope. And then the longer it goes on, The easier it is to view it in a more negative way. And of course that feels worse. Of course, that feels terrible. If you really believed that there was no hope you would be covered in darkness.

And so today I wanna give you a little bit of insight into what your brain might be telling you. If you are in the midst of a season of long suffering, then you can practice thinking instead. So on this podcast, we’ve talked about your inner mean girl and your inner mean girl is that kind of negative voice in your mind that tells you, you, you know, you’re not a good mom, you’re terrible at everything. You screwed this up again. You’ll never be good enough, right? She gives you a long list of things that Are negative and meant by the way, to protect you by keeping you safe. So your brain has this idea that if she puts you down and you never do anything new or difficult or uncomfortable, that you will be safe because if you stay the way that you are right now, your brain is like, Hey, it’s working. You’re alive. So even if you’re a little bit uncomfortable or unhappy, your brain will choose the discomfort or the unhappy that it knows versus the scary unknown. So I want you to know that I have not met a single person that doesn’t have a very loud and chatty negative inner voice.

So this is not a you thing. It’s a human thing. And it makes a lot of sense That your brain is a computer designed to keep you alive. And so it does everything that it can to get you to stay safe. And it just has some mixed up ideas about what that means and what that should look like. And so When you are in a season of long suffering, your brain will likely tell you things like there’s no hope This isn’t gonna get better when you do try something and it doesn’t work or work the way that you thought it will say, see, I told you, I knew that was too good to be true. Couldn’t have been that easy. This isn’t going to work for you, or you screwed it up. Maybe that would’ve worked for somebody else, but not you. And this is true. Whether we’re problem solving in pain in our body and health challenges or in our relationships, It takes a lot of courage to try again, in both of those situations, a lot of courage to find another doctor or another natural path, or read another article or try some new medication. And it takes a lot of courage to read a marriage book or go to counseling,

Or to sit down with your spouse again, after there’s been so much pain between you. So when you guys tell me about your long suffering, you usually make yourself sound pretty bad in the process. I can see your shame. I can feel your disappointment and your pain, But when you tell me what you’ve been through, I see your strength. I see your courage. I, you, the progress that you’ve made When I begin to coach someone and I ask them about what is better, what have they learned? Where have they grown? How are they more like Christ today than when they first encountered the suffering? They always find evidence. And I see the change in their face. Their face goes from being scrunched up, sad, frustrated. And then it just softens a little bit. There’s a little bit of wonder there. Huh? What if what she’s saying is true? You know what? I have grown a lot. You know what? I do look a little bit more like Christ in my life. Now, in fact, This suffering has led me to a deeper relationship with my faith. And often when we are listening to the mean girl in our mind, we are not listening. Listening to God. We have kind of turned away from him a little bit and we’re in our own mind and in our own world and telling our own story. And he’s not part of it. And it makes a lot of sense that we would do this because we’re angry. We’re frustrated.

We’re told that God is so loving and we see pictures of Jesus. And he has such a soft look on his face. It’s hard for us to reconcile that with decades of pain, either physically or emotionally. But I wanna tell you that it is always the answer. It is always the answer to go back to him and say, help me with this pain, Lord, help me underst stand it, help me endure it. Help me give it back to you. I was traveling recently and I always pray and talk to the Lord when I’m on a plane. And I don’t know, Jesus, and I just have really great conversations when I’m flying. And I was asking him about my marriage. And I was saying, Lord, what did, how do I need to change? So instead of my normal plea of why is this? So like this, why haven’t you helped me? What’s going on here? I said, Lord, how do you want me to change? How do I need to be different? And I felt like he told me Sterling. Until you completely rely on me for everything, you are not going to get what you want in your marriage.

And I thought that was so interesting. And one of the ways that we can tell that God is speaking to us is that it feels comforting. Even if he rebukes us and he’s telling us something challenging, it feels comforting. And I thought, he’s totally right. I had this idea that I wish my marriage was different so that my husband could make me feel certain things like being cherished or being lovable the way that I am, or being accepted or being wanted. And I really believed God, when he said, I have to give you all of those things first. And at first my mind was like, oh no, Lord. If I choose that, if I choose to look at you and have you fill up all of those things, will it create disconnection in my marriage? Was what my brain was kind of scared of, But that hasn’t been the case. What I’ve noticed in real time is when I look to my husband and he says something that I might perceive as is hurtful or not supportive or evidence that he doesn’t cherish me or love me just the way that I am now in my mind, I have this moment where I think, oh, you know what? That’s totally fine because I get that from the Lord.

And it has significantly decreased the amount of pain that I feel By just having this different thought of the situation. And I think the same is true. When we have long suffering in physical pain or health, We often pray that God will take the pain away so that we can feel something and allow a lot of times it’s so that we can feel capable. So much of what I hear in the coaching is this idea that someone is lazy or they wish that they could be more productive, That they wish that they didn’t have joint pain or fatigue

That they wish they could be the other moms. And so it’s kind of the same thing, right? Where we’re saying, Hey Lord, I need you to change this cross so that I can believe positive things about myself so I can feel lovable and worthy so I can feel okay, But God is standing there with all of us. And he’s saying you are okay, my strength comes from you. We say to him, my strength comes from you. My value comes from you. I am worthy because of you Lord. And I can feel resistance in my body when I really try to hold onto that. So I want to tell you, I think that that is really normal, it feels scary to surrender. It feels scary to give it all up to him. And we will go in and out of those feelings or those states all the time where we really do surrender and we lean on him and we trust him and then we snatch it back cuz we get scared. And that’s what I’ve been noticing since I’ve been home in my relationship. I just notice when I’m scared and I go, oh, sorry Lord. I forgot. I’m gonna give it back to you. I’m gonna let you fill me up with love. And I’ve been kind of picturing him, wrapping me up in a blanket,

Like putting this padding or this cut hovering around me. That makes me feel so safe and loved. And you can do that in your pain too, cuz most of you actually are pretty good at withstanding the pain or the health issues. It’s your thoughts about yourself that add this extra deep layer of pain where you think something is wrong with you Because you just can’t perform at the level that other people can. One of the things that I think is so interesting about the study they did with plants. So they, you know, you probably heard the study before where they take two sets of plants and they insult one of them and then they compliment the other. And every single time the plants that they insult wither and die and the plants that have compliments grow and flourish, And these don’t even have souls or brains. You guys How much more powerful are the words we say to ourselves? What if you spoke to the cells in your body? What if you complimented them? What if you spoke positively to them? Because God created our bodies to heal itself. It is possible. There are so many stories about that.

And there are so many stories of marriages that have had miraculous turnarounds As unexplainable. It was just by the grace of God and his great mercy that the spouses stopped dealing with some of the things that were so painful. Now, As long as we live here on earth, there will be pain. It is only in heaven that we will have no pain physically or emotionally. So he never takes everything away, but he is a God of miracles. And I wanna wake up every day thinking of that, you are a God of miracles, Lord, please perform a miracle in this relationship of mine. That is so painful. A lot of you have very painful relationships. I share mine about my marriage, but that’s pretty much the only one that I have a pretty good relationship with my parents and my friends. But for some of you, it’s a different relationship and it is deeply painful and it has been causing you pain for a very long time. But our God is a God of miracles and he can heal things in an instant. So I want to offer you a different way of viewing your long suffering. And I’ve already given you some thoughts,

But one of the most powerful thoughts I think is I’ve made so much progress. We get what we focus on. When you focus on the challenges that didn’t work, you will get more challenges and more things that don’t work. I promise. But when you focus on what has worked and you tell yourself, look at how much progress we’ve made and then list it out, find the evidence that my husband and I have made so much progress in 12 years. It’s incredible. The language that we have, the tools that we have. I like this thought I’ve learned so much. I am so strong. I can handle this. You know what? I can handle having a challenging marriage. I’ve been doing it for 12 years. I am handling this. I have so much courage. You know what? You guys, it takes so much courage to wake up every day and try again. God is with me. I can use his strength today. I am lovable. Just the way that I am. A lot of you guys say that thought or think it in your mind, but it doesn’t create a feeling in your body. That’s how you know, you don’t believe it. It doesn’t come with feeling something good in your body. And that’s when we wanna use a bridge thought where we’re trying to believe it. So you would say, I want to believe that I’m worthy. Just the way that I am, that will feel calming. Not as sparkly as I am worthy, but it’s a bridge that it’s getting you there.

I love myself. God loves me. You get what you focus on. Recently, I made a list of things that I really love about my husband and would love to see more of, and at the top of the page, I put you get what you focus on Michael. And there was so much you guys he’s such a good dad. He takes such good care of me. He loves, surprising me with things. He’s so thoughtful. We love talking to each other. How often do you think my brain in the last 12 years has thought we love talking to each other? It doesn’t think that it thinks, oh, we have lots of painful conversations. And then what do you think I have more of when I think that Instead, I’ve just been noticing that, you know, we both work from home as coaches and so we’ll be in our offices and then we kind of work alternating. So we’re not always working at the same time, but one of us will come out and we seek the other person to talk to them Because actually we really do like talking to each other. I see evidence for that.

 

And for those of you that are going through health struggles, there are things that you know, now that you didn’t know before, even if it’s just the elimination of something that isn’t the problem, You get, what you focus on, You can focus on your progress and courage and you as a problem solver. So the last thing I wanna leave with you is this Idea of motherhood, Because we could describe motherhood as long suffering. We could say, oh, it’s so hard. I’ve tried so many things. And as soon as I solve one problem, another problem comes up. It’s so painful. Why isn’t God helping me? Why is this still so difficult? And within motherhood, we could easily tell ourselves I’m a bad mom. I’m screwing it up. This is my fault. I’m not doing it right. And a lot of us do say that, But it’s interesting because we have this deep acceptance of our vocation of motherhood. We don’t think of it like a cross. We don’t think of it like long suffering that shouldn’t have happened. Why is that? Why do you accept The challenges of motherhood? And you just roll with it With acceptance and surrender. We may still talk to God about the challenges within motherhood, but we are just so accepting of it.

Proud, even love being moms. So, But the way that we describe long suffering with health challenges or long suffering in a painful relationship, you could describe motherhood the same way. And yet we feel very differently about it. We don’t ask God to take it away. We don’t say, oh, this is so painful. Lord, Could you just take this away? We feel deeply called to motherhood. And I just wanna be curious about these different containers. It’s kind of a coaching word in the coaching world. When you’re designing, how you’re going to deliver coaching, they call them containers. Like your container could be one on one coaching, right? We have a membership container where people come every month, we have that kind of container. You could have a group program that’s three or six months and that’s a certain container . And I really like this word for describing ways that God is refining us into saints. Cause I think he does that in a motherhood container and a marriage container and a health challenge container like within this container is our growth is our sainthood obstacle course. And I think we’re just so accepting of the motherhood container.

And for a lot of you, you’re completely accepting of the marriage container too. But you can hear in my voice that I’m in such resistance to it. I’m like, well, my container should look different than this way. And instead if I can just learn to accept it As my obstacle course, this container for growth, this container for refining me to be more Christ. So I can be with him in heaven And I can just be in it. I’m not slamming up against the walls trying to get out. And I think when we experience long suffering, we expend so much energy slamming up against the sides trying to get out. And that is not a good use of our energy. You, our thinking instead, I want you to put your arms down, take a deep breath, see if you can accept this container that you’re in And ask yourself, how am I supposed to grow here? What is God showing me? How am I going to become a Saint in this container? And then use your energy to connect to the Lord and be a problem solver. I don’t understand the ways of the Lord, But I talk to him a lot. I, and he is a good father

And he loves us. And he does things with great intention and thoughtfulness. He loves you so much and he designed your life including long suffering perfectly for you. Let’s be curious about why. And if it helps make a list of all the reasons you are not in resistance to your vocation of motherhood, even though that is also a very challenging growth container.

Why do you think that is okay? Even on its hardest days, but your other container. Isn’t just to be curious about that and take all of this to the Lord and just sit with him. You get what you focus on. So you too can take out a piece of paper and write to you, get what you focus on and watch’s your painful thing. And then write down all the good things, all the progress, all the ways that you are a problem solver and you are courageous and you are falling more deeply in love with the Lord and yourself. And I want you to focus on those things and watch them grow in your life because you are so much more than a plant. So let’s speak words of love and kindness to ourselves and see how much we grow. All right, ladies, I love you. I’m praying for you. And remember you were Made for Greatness.