Andy Stanley alerted me to this term though the concept has been very familiar to me. He claims the Fellowship of Suffering is defined in a statement that “There is a natural bond between those who have suffered deeply & similarly.” I totally agree. There is nothing worse than a person saying, “I understand” when they obviously don’t. However, each situation of suffering is different for each person.
I remember when my father died when I was 16 and a junior in high school. Many of my friends paraded through the line at the funeral home and obviously, no teen knows what to say in these situations. But, Jody did. I don’t know why, but she just seemed to “know something.” Had she lost before? She didn’t chatter, she didn’t even try to say something profound, she just said, “sorry.” She seemed wise beyond her years. Having stood in that line at the funeral, I began collecting “sufferings” for my fellowship. Though I sincerely believe I’ve led a charmed life, I have experienced pains and frustrations too. I would like to share my Fellowship of Suffering Categories in case you ever need someone to talk to.
Death of my father unexpectedly when I was 16. He was 50 and died of a heart attack.
Love those who have had traumatic brain injuries and recovered.
Miscarried my second child.
Fostered many children and know the pain of letting them go into unsafe environments.
I have waited up for teenage drivers.
I have received a call from the police to come and pick up said teenage drivers. (Won’t squeal and tell which one!)
My kids have left home, made choices I didn’t support, gone days without calling & have exhibited risky behaviors at times.
I have known the pain of my adopted children longing for answers.
I deal with mental illness on a daily basis.
I live with the damage of abused children and the effects it has on their lives.
Fortunately, my list doesn’t seem very long to me, unfortunately, I’m sure it will grow as I continue to live and love. That’s what life is all about.
There truly is a bond between those who have suffered deeply and similarly. I appreciate every person who experienced my pain prior to me who said, “I understand.” I now look at events in my life and view them as how I will be able to use them for the good of someone else. Though it stinks to go through a suffering, it can be redeemed when you are the one giving the hug and saying, “I understand.”