Some skills require dedicated practice. When Dirk and Karen visited from Haiti, his banjo picking let us know he’d practiced lots!But in the mayhem world of suffering, we can find ourselves shoved on stage for a solo performance in the blink of a stroke, the crash of an auto accident, or the words of a cancer diagnosis.
Performance? Really? Yes, because we perform what character has been rehearsing in our halcyon days. Without repeated lessons about the mundane repetition of practicing scales or learning to tie shoes…I can whine, weep, avoid healing directives or lifestyle changes that have no appeal to me. Shifting blame to others can all too easily deflect my own unwillingness to others.
C. S. Lewis, writing in The Problem of Pain, observes, “Pain insists on being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a dear world.”
My friend Vesta, after her initial stomach cancer diagnosis, spoke at several retreats. Her topic? Suffering: Are You Ready? She stressed the need we all have to prepare early, in our healthy times. She made Jesus’ words, “In this world you will have trials/tribulations…” very real. Years later, Ann Voskamp would publish One Thousand Gifts, and convey this: “Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.”
Here’s to the repetition of practice!