This has been an amazing week as authors share their stories of how walking through some very deep valleys has helped to deepen their perspective on life, thus the Greening of the Soul. Today suspense writer Amy Wallace shares a personal story that will hold you spellbound as her Deep Chocolate Suspense will hold you spellbound. Amy Wallace, welcome to Words to Go!
AMY: I’m so glad to be here, Patty.
PATTY: What was your first remembrance of being initiated into the world of suffering.
AMY: Two circumstances come to mind when I consider my initiation into suffering. The first, was a diagnosis of diabetes when I was a senior in high school, already scared to death about the “real world” at my doorstep. The second was attending the funeral of a friend after praying for his healing from cancer for three years.
Both of those experiences stripped away any ability to control my spinning world. Asking God WHY used up a great deal of energy. As did anger. And doubt. I mean, how could God be good when life physically and emotionally hurt so much?
PATTY: In our culture, we tend to define good as something that happens to bring us pleasure rather than something that intrinsically makes us a deeper person. That’s why we default to bargaining with God instead of thanking him for walking with us through it.
AMY: Looking back, the blessing of pain slowly crafted something of beauty in my soul, much like rushing water carved out the beauty of the Grand Canyon.
PATTY: So true. We forget about the beautiful thing that comes out of our time of desolation.
AMY: I learned at an early age that my choices had serious consequences: if I ignored a low blood sugar, I could die. If I ate too much without taking insulin or if I refused to deal with minor illnesses that skyrocketed my blood sugars, I could die or be seriously injured. Diabetes grew me up fast and taught me that dependence on God was the only good option for handling life. My chronic illness also gave me an early understanding that God is still at work, even in the painful portions of life.
PATTY: When we led a hospital ministry, that’s what we noticed about children with chronic and life threatening illnesses. They were wise beyond their years.
AMY: Watching my friend’s health deteriorate and then watching helplessly as God took him home, shook me to the core. For the first time in my life I didn’t want to talk to God. I’d prayed for Ken and God ignored me, why talk to Him about anything else?
PATTY: It’s not that God isn’t used to that type of response or can’t handle it, it’s that we slip away from the umbrella of his benefits when we run from the shelter of his wings.
AMY: When I turned my back on God, everything else slipped down that steep slope and crashed. But Ken’s widow spoke into my pain about the grace of God and how He gave her what she needed to live and He’d do the same for me. If I let Him.
PATTY: So you did. And how what did that unpack in you?
AMY: God also used these lessons to make me available to others in their pain. I’ve had the honor of being that helping hand to pull someone out of the pit that others have been to me. It’s beautiful to walk through that experience and see 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 lived out. “…who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”
PATTY: I find that trait a commonality among believers who have “overcome” suffering, especially when suffering becomes intrinsic instead of going away—like Patti’s pain, my grief, etc.Has your view of God's sovereignty been redefined? OR would you like to share an example of how the process of suffering has helped reshape the way you explain God's often misunderstood nature?
AMY:My view of God’s sovereignty has been stretched, tumbled and strengthened. Having walked through suffering and come out with fewer answers and more empathy, I now speak into other’s lives differently than before…sometimes by silence, sometimes by sharing my story, and sometimes by lending a friend my hope until they find theirs again.
PATTY: In our noisy, advice giving culture, we have to relearn the healing practices like the quiet vigil of presence or silent listening.
AMY:I don’t pretend to understand God or have many answers, but I’ve looked into the face of pain and found a friend there to walk the path with me, a friend who never gives up, never lets go and never loves me less.
PATTY: That makes you my new best friend, Amy. And all of us are so happy to invite you here to share what you’ve gleaned from the depths of suffering. I understand you come bearing gifts.
AMY:Patty, I’d be happy to give a copy of Healing Promises away. In its pages are my wrestling match with God when my friend died of cancer and the tender way God showed Himself real to my questioning heart.
I think that a lot of our readers would love to have that or buy it. So we’ll add Healing Promises to our growing basketful of books in Saturday’s book give. Enter feedback in today’s blog chat and your name is entered in the Big Staw Hat for Saurday’s give. Tomorrow my friend novelist Rene Gutteridge will share her own story of how she walked through the valley of suffering and it’s all here at Words to Go. Here’s to God blessing your way with beautiful greening paths, friends!