Whenever I read Shelly Miller’s writing I slow down. She takes me through a meditative and visual journey, whatever she writes. She is a fellow minister’s wife, with much wisdom, and I’m delighted she’s sharing her God and Suffering story here. Over to Shelly:
Sitting under the square hole in the mud wall, a window without glass or screen, I prop my voice recorder on the meager table and begin asking questions. I’m unprepared to hear the answers. How does one describe the horror of seeing their entire family mutilated and then go on to forgive their perpetrators?
Young Rwandans take turns on the couch across from me. Sit next to an interpreter and describe being orphaned, captured, beaten, raped, pillaged and wandering during the 1994 genocide. Then they share the redemption, how living in Hope Village changes their lives.
A five-year effort fund-raising for this child-headed village of 80 children brought me here. I can’t swallow their suffering stuck in my throat. I barely hold the recorder steady for the trembling emotion ready to tumble out.
I’ve never known this kind of suffering. Their stories cast light on the shadows of my own experience. Yet how do I feel more at home with my Rwandan friends than those in my own seaside southern community?
Culture can’t separate what is common to man. Poverty isn’t just a price tag or a place, it’s pain of the soul, the empty place in each of us waiting to be filled up with promise.
Henri Nouwen says, “The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means “to suffer.” Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants. Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God’s glorious coming.
Healing cannot be hurried up and hope is hallowed ground. I saw it in their eyes brimming with slanted light on a Fall day. I know it myself.
As a child of divorce, I’ve waited on a soppy pillow of endless longing for the hope of healthy family.
As a teenager of a single parent struggling with alcoholism and poverty, I’ve waited to embrace peace and stability embedded in the wallpaper of my own home.
As a pastor’s wife living in cities thousands of miles from my hometown, I’ve waited for the carpool of community, the seat of belonging.
I don’t walk barefoot on red clay roads carrying water bottles for miles, sleep under mosquito nets, or wrestle through forgiving my neighbors for killing my family. But I do share the fate of knowing the God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence things that don’t yet exist. (Romans 4:17)
And perhaps patiently waiting is the kind of suffering that speaks a common language, one without need of interpretation. We’re all seeds lying under the soil of what is yet to be, waiting on the promise of resurrection at just the right time.
Shelly Miller is smitten with the art of story to transform a life. She writes about her own struggles as a child of divorce and alcoholism, and the way God redeems it all as a clergy wife raising two teens. With experience as a full-time missionary, advocate for orphans in Rwanda and leader of women’s ministries for small and large congregations, she is passionate to help people realize calling despite circumstance. When her husband H isn’t leading a church planting movement in North America, they drive five minutes across the street to take a walk on the Atlantic, with a camera strapped to her shoulder. She blogs at Redemptions Beauty, tweets at SMIllerRB and connects on Facebook at Shelly Miller, Writer.
Over to you:
- Can you relate to that kind of suffering which is to do with waiting, being in the in-between?
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