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By definition, suffering is not a pleasant experience. And naturally we seek to avoid it every chance we can, and spare our loved ones from it as well. But life is full of much necessary suffering that we must learn to allow to exercise the fullness of our strength. And this means it’s not always wise to shield others from the suffering they must endure either.

For instance, of course we want to protect our kids from heartache and pain. And this is part of our duty and responsibility to them. But it’s so easy to overextend our desire to protect them that we end up not  preparing them for the harsh realities of life. Many lessons are only learned through pain and suffering. Even walking is only mastered after countless failed attempts.

As such, one of the most loving things we can do for our kids is to allow them to suffer on their path of growth. In fact, it’s not ultimately kind or gracious to do otherwise, though it might feel like it in the moment.

And this is true throughout our life and relationships. For example, sometimes we must choose not to save our wife, friends, or others from a difficult situation even though we could.

To be sure, this is not selfishness or withholding our blessing. But it’s learning to discern what’s in their best long-term interest. And we must not let our help keep them as infants – always crawling and never learning how to walk. It’s not love to keep them from maturing just because we don’t want to see them suffer; this is when “help” becomes truly selfish.

In the end, be quick to do good to others every chance you get, sparing them from any unnecessary suffering. But learn to wisely discern when to allow the suffering needed for growth.

Photo by Mark Pan4ratte on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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