Over the last few years, through some hard and holy experiences, I have heard rising in my mind a few summaries of wisdom, summaries which crystallized discoveries I had made but did not know quite how to phrase. Compressed into them is a tangle of emotions: struggle and celebration, defeat and mercy, pain and joy. They’re like condensed milk or juice concentrate; there’s a lot more in them than the container might suggest. Maybe they’ll be useful to you (and my friends at First Baptist Church of Asheville have heard almost all these–more than once!):

Pain is physical or psychical, and we have almost no choices about it; suffering has to do with how alone we feel and how much hope we have. We can choose who we let come close to us and the story we tell ourselves about what hurts us.  

Words have the power to create and to destroy, to give life and to kill, to hearten or to dishearten. A lack of care for words is related, I am convinced, to a lack of honesty with ourselves about what we intend our words to do and a lack compassion for those to whom, and about whom, we speak.

God is like Jesus: if you can’t imagine that Jesus would say it or do it, you can be sure God didn’t either.

From Irenaeus of Lyons, 2nd Century: “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”

God doesn’t cause our pain but loves us too much to waste it.

I don’t fear death so much now; I fear unlived life.

A limited life isn’t a diminished life; it’s a human life.