The growing season is upon us. And, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to grow — tomatoes! But, I have also been reflecting upon what I am growing in myself — body, mind, spirit, and heart. It takes a lot to grow into your best self. That includes compost. What is this compost made of? Suffering.

Deep within us beats a heart yearning to grow our best self. With just the right amount of fertilizer, sunlight, and water, our stem explodes from the ground of our soul into the world. Even if we do not have the exact right ratio of nutrients, through the resilience of these plants called you and me a way is found to grow strong and true.

Practicing Self Compassion

Our resilience is sustained through self compassion. This is not self-indulgence; rather, it is doing good for our self. Self compassion begins by noting where you suffer and how is has depleted you. Note where are you fatigued and what triggers your suffering. Your awareness provides clues to the roots of your suffering. 

Now, I am a big believer in using the compost of suffering to grow our best self. Everything in our life can be used to help us grow stronger, more resilient. Suffering is a variety of life compost. Turning a smelly heap of suffering into usable compost requires reflection and introspection. Through these key elements of discernment, we uncover the lesson-gifts within the suffering. 

The Hidden Messages of Suffering

You may be thinking, “No good has ever come of my suffering. I see no gift in my suffering.” 

I would say, “Look deeper. Let go of the grief. Open your eyes to what suffering is saying.”

Because, really, suffering always has a message. To say that it is there to teach us, to make us stronger is really too simplistic. We have to dig into the smelliness searching for message clues while being open to hearing the truth. 

Are you thinking this might be too much work? When you change your frame of reference and engage suffering mindfully, its message become clearer. This discovery is worthy time spent.

Digging into the Compost

How do you dig through the compost of suffering? Here’s an example: Moving to Louisville didn’t quite turn out the way that I thought it would. There have been challenges. My life has gone in a very different direction than I was expecting. At times, I have been overwhelmed. But, then I look at the compost and see what I have grown. 

I’ve met some great people. Learned about social injustice. Redefined limitations to opportunities. And, lived into the person I always knew I was. My experience could have created a spiral into deep despair. Instead of allowing despair to overwhelm me, I grew a stronger me. And, I have to say that I am a better writer, mom, program presenter, and advocate — a better, more resilient person because of my Louisville experience. 

What Have You Learned? 

So, I ask you, “What have you learned from your suffering? How has it made you a better, more resilient person?” Share your answers in the comment section. 

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