A seriously great theologian and writer, Tim Keller, writes:
One of the main metaphors the Bible gives us for facing affliction is walking – walking through something difficult, perilous and potentially fatal.
The walking metaphor points to the idea of progress. Many ancients saw adversity as merely something to withstand and endure without flinching, or even feeling, until it goes away. Modern Western people see suffering as something like adverse weather, something you avoid or insulate yourself from until it passes by.
The unusual balance of the Christian faith is seen in the metaphor of walking – through darkness, swirling waters or fire. We are not to lose our footing and just let the suffering have its way with us. But we are also not to think we can somehow avoid it or be completely impervious to it either. We are to meet and move through suffering without shock and surprise, without denial of our sorrow and weakness, without resentment or paralyzing fear, yet also without acquiescence or capitulation, without surrender or despair.
I cannot count how many times I have wanted to just stop in the last few years.
And for everything around me to stop.
Just to hit the pause button and to press play again when i was well. To not have to deal with the mess that was in my head, my raging anxiety, the pounding heart and relentless negative thought spiral. To be able to switch off the pain and the worry.
To turn off the fear that i would never feel like the me that I vaguely remembered; who would have been shocked at the person I had become.
The person who didnt want to make plans, or eat out, or even get out of bed some days.
Looking back I can see I did not give up. Even when I was very low… I continued to walk through it. It is really hard work some days, and tiring.
Sometimes you don’t even feel like you are moving. But we live within time, and you are moving through it – even if you feel you are only standing still.
To all my friends out there who are in that boat. You are not alone.
And you are doing great.
Even if you think you are not. Even if you feel like a failure and that you have screwed it all up again. You haven’t stopped. You are still moving.
We cannot avoid suffering, it comes in many forms and no one is exempt. We cannot insulate ourselves from it.
Don’t pretend. Don’t deny.
Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
ps. Found this today – through the power of twitter, i think it is amazing, but some people might (will) find some of the content offensive. You have been warned!
A response by Matt Fraction – comic book writer, to a question from someone considering suicide. In my opinion – genius.
This post is part of a series I am writing about mental health. If you want to read more, the series starts here.