creating space in your heart for suffering

When I skimmed the headlines of my People subscription, Voice Alum Christina Grimmie Dies After Being Shot, I thought to myself, naw she’s probably in the hospital getting better. I tapped the email. My jaw drops.


Instantly, the wave of pain starts flowing into me. First it seeps in through the pores on my arms, then it crashes in through the top of my head, the base of my feet, in between my breast-bone, through the tunnel of my bellybutton. My body was there, sitting on the chair of the bus that’s taking me home, but me? Darkness fell around me and I was in pain.

I didn’t understand why I felt so deeply connected with this news. It wasn’t because she was shot, it wasn’t because she was shot after her concert, and it wasn’t because she was shot after her concert while signing autographs from a guy in line. I tried to find reasons and words to describe this, but couldn’t. So my heart broke all the way home.

The next night, I received a notification from the Guardian that 20 people (now it’s 50) were killed at a shooting in an LGBT night club in Orlando. I hurt. I felt pain. My heart broke again.

I didn’t understand why. This wasn’t sadness, this was distress, pain, torment all balled up in one. I felt the pain wrap around my heart and constricted it so tight that I couldn’t breathe; that tears started to fall as the only way of release.

It wasn’t until I listened to this podcast by Rob Bell titled Making Room for the Immensities that I understood.

I finally understood why I experienced agony when my mum left in March, or when my best friend told me his father passed, I felt heaviness all around me. I understood why when I see my friends cry, my heart breaks for them, or when I read about Christina Grimmie, I grieved.

I was letting go.

I was letting my heart break and I was feeling the pieces shatter.

I was suffering.

The torment washed over me and I embraced it. I let this suffering take over and flow through my being. I didn’t hold back.

I felt it course through me. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I made room in my heart for the suffering so I could feel the immensity of it all.

I used to try and distract myself from this anguish, but the relief I get from releasing myself and surrendering to the pain is something much more rewarding.

From something as small as “I just cut my finger open” to “the tire of our car exploded on the highway”, I was always able to identify and feel the pain when someone shares his story with me. I never realized why I felt like I was suffering along with someone’s story, even if the things I read or hear about are completely irrelevant to me. But now I do. It’s because I actually feel their suffering and make room in my heart for them.

When you feel pain, you can feel it physically – heart constricting, sweating, pain in body parts- and you carry that around. You carry that around, slowly letting it go, until one day it doesn’t hurt anymore. But when you are suffering and you feel like the world is going to end, like nothing matters anymore? You let that take over you and you let that feeling break you open. And you feel it.

You honor that suffering.

Because you see, the thing is, in order for your heart to get bigger, it has to break. You need to let it break open until it includes the suffering that you’re feeling. Because that is how you transcend.

Sometimes I feel empty. There’s no warning, no explanations, I just feel empty and alone. I hate the feeling, who wouldn’t? I almost always try to run from that and find a way to feel full. I’ll watch tv and try to immerse myself in the brainless world of inventions and fabrications. Now I’m slowly learning to let this emptiness break me open so that my heart will include the feeling and stop blocking it. As I continue to make room for suffering in myself, I will also be creating room for the immensities of the world.

There are many ways for someone to develop themselves, whether it’s jumping out of their comfort zone or trying new hobbies. Creating room for the immensity of suffering is one of them. Next time, when you feel hurt, angry, sad, just let that feeling take over. Don’t complain about it, don’t push it away, just feel it. I can’t explain it, but you’ll know what I mean. Suffering is beyond words. Sometimes there’s nothing to say.

-edit- June 20 2016

A week and a bit after I started writing this post and hearing the news, I finally grieved the death of Christina Grimmie tonight as I watched her YouTube videos. I didn’t even know I was grieving until I started to feel that suffering in my heart again. Thank goodness I was able to speak with my best friends at the exact moment and note down my feelings.

I know I’m taking this one instance, generalizing it and comparing it to life, but bare with me. I identify with this situation the most.

My first question was, I don’t get why someone would want to kill such a sweet girl like her. Why?

My second thought was: this girl had it all. She was living her dream, touring the country, singing and posting heartfelt music videos. She was so talented and it’s evident she touched many, many lives.

But it all ended in an instant. Even if you’re doing what you’ve always wanted to do and doing what make you happy, it ended. And in a way, I was crying because I was so happy for her. That at the young age of 22, she’s accomplished so much more than any of us ever could.

More than that, I was crying for her family and all those people who are grieving their loss.

I was also crying for myself. It’s so funny how I always come back full circle back to square one. What the fuck do I want to do with my life? What else am I yearning for? I cherish every single fucking moment with my entire being, yet, I know there’s something more out there that I want. But what the hell is it? It frustrates me so much that I can’t figure it out.

Anyway, so what the fuck are we doing not living our dreams? What are you doing not living yours?


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