1 (a): to submit to or be forced to endure; (b): to feel keenly: labor under
2: undergo, experience
3: to put up with especially as inevitable or unavoidable
4: to allow especially by reason of indifference




Suffer (v.): mid-13th century, “allow to occur or continue, permit, tolerate, fail to prevent or suppress,” also “to be made to undergo, endure, be subjected to” (pain, death, punishment, judgment, grief), from Anglo-French suffrir, Old French sofrirbear, endure, resist; permit, tolerate, allow,” from Vulgar Latin sufferire, variant Latin sufferer “to bear, undergo, endure, carry or put under,” from subup, under” + ferreto carry” (related to: infer).



“One thing you can't hide - is when you're crippled inside.”

John Lennon (1940-1980, English singer and songwriter who co-founded the Beatles, the most commercially successful band in the history of music)

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“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-2945, German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confessing Church)

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“There is the solitude of suffering, when you go through darkness that is lonely, intense, and terrible. Words become powerless to express your pain; what others hear from your words is so distant and different from what you are actually suffering.”

John O’Donohue (1956-2008, Irish poet, author, priest, and Hegelian philosopher; author of “Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom,” and best known for popularizing Celtic spirituality)

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“She had become accustomed to being lonely. She was used to walking alone and to being considered 'different.' She did not suffer too much.”

Betty Smith (1896-1972, American author, best known for writing the novel, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”)

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“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God . . . and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.”

Orson F. Whitney (1855-1931, politician, journalist, poet, historian, and academic; member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1906 until his death)

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“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Last Saturday, I was invited to a dinner party. Sue and her husband, Alan, a couple whom I admire greatly invited me over to their home first to illicit my opinion on their trip to NYC. I was more than happy to help. They also offered to drive me and another friend, Milton, to the party.

I’ve seen Milton at our bible class. A widower and 91 years of age, he had a quick mind and sometimes could be a bit curmudgeon, always seeming to complain that he couldn’t hear when anyone spoke.

When Milton arrived I went over to him gingerly and said hello.  At first, I put my hand out to shake his, but then asked if I could hug him.  He smiled and said yes.  When I did, he said sincerely, “Thank you. I so needed that.” Suddenly, I felt a kinship with him.

On the way to the party Milton sat in the front passenger’s seat while Alan drove.  Milton talked a great deal, mainly about politics, his life in the military, his father, and his memories of the original Florida.  Sue didn’t understand at first why he talked so much, but I later told her that he was very lonely.  She took my words in and then asked Milton about his wife, and that’s when he lit up, talking about how dear she was to him.

I saw Milton the next morning at bible class.  This time he was smiling and saying the he now could hear.  He was using his hearing aids.

Sometimes, we don’t realize how much another person is suffering.  We get caught in our own suffering that we cannot see beyond our own pain.

But, maybe that’s the silver lining in this election cycle.  Maybe, we got to witness and unearth the levels of our collective pain.  Now that we have, can we come together and create loving and compassionate spaces to forgive and heal?  I am optimistic we can.

The great poet Audre Lorde once wrote: “It is not our differences that divide us.  It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”

“Peace be still,” fellow travelers!

Written with Love, Tonya




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