"If we aren't careful, our success and security and abundance can lead to a certain sort of boredom, a numbing predictability, a paralyzing indifference that comes from being too comfortable."
"Have you ever gotten angry enough in a conversation to say, "Do you want to know how I really feel?" The moment we say something like that, we reveal that up until that moment, we weren't being entirely truthful. Now obviously, there may have been good reason - knowing when and where to say what and how much is important. But sometimes there's a truth just below the surface that is, in fact, the real issue. And to get it out in the open, to talk about what really needs to be talked about, to stop pretending and posing and acting, we have to suffer."
"Pain has a way of making us more honest."
"And so we're polite and we play by the rules and when asked how we are, we answer, 'I'm fine, thank you,' just like we're supposed to. And then suffer. There's a disruption and our boxes get smashed and the insulators are removed and the pretense is shattered and the "empty place" inside of us opens up."
"Only if you mean it."
"You aren't the only one having this experience."
"So much of the time we're surrounded by buzz and gloss and hype - we slide down the surface of things."
"The ache is universal. The ache reminds us that things aren't how they're supposed to be. The ache cuts through all the static, all of the ways we avoid having to actually feel things. The ache reassures us that we're not the only ones who feel this way."
"'It makes all the difference to know there's someone else screaming alongside you - and that's the point of the incarnation. I can see that so clearly now. God came into the world and screamed alongside us.'"
"Great artists know that it isn't just about what you add; sometimes the most important work is knowing what to take away. Removing clutter, excess, all the superfluous elements - and finding out in the process what's been in there the whole time."
"There is greatness in you. Courage. Desire. Integrity. Virtue. Compassion. Dignity. Loyalty. Love. It's in there - somewhere. And sometimes it takes suffering to get at it. It's in there."
"You can own something and not possess it. You can possess something and not own it."
"Having nothing, and yet possessing everything."
"Sometimes what happens to us when we suffer is that we become open to the mercy and grace and gratitude and gift and appreciation and joy that are always around us all the time, even in a sandwich."
God wastes nothing.
"It isn't just a failure, a mistake, a sin, a wrong... it's also an opportunity to grow, expand, evolve, learn."
"Even the failed pieces are essential."
"I want desperately for things to go 'how they're supposed to.' Which is another way of saying 'how I want them to,' which is another way of saying 'according to my plan.' And that, as we all know, isn't how it works. But it's in that disappointment, in that confusion, in that pain - the pain that comes from things not going how I want them to - that I find the same thing happening, again and again. I come to the end of myself, to the end of my power, the end of my strength, the end of my understanding, only to find in that place of powerlessness a strength and peace that weren't there before. I keep discovering that it's in the blemish that the Spirit enters. The cross, it turns out, is about the mysterious work of God which begins not with big plans and carefully laid out timetables but in pain and anguish and death. It's there, in the agony of those moments, that we get the first glimpses of just what it looks like for God to take all of our trauma and hurt and disappointment, all those fragments lying there on the ground, and turn them into something else, something new, something we never would have been able to creat on our own. It's in that place where we're reminded that true life comes when we're willing to admit that we've reached the end of ourselves, we've given up, we've let go, we're willing to die to all of our desires to figure it out and be in control. We lose our life, only to find it."
"We are going to suffer. And it is going to shape us. Somehow. We will become Bitter or Better. Closed or Open. More ignorant or more aware. More or less tuned in to the thousands upon thousands of gifts we are surrounded with every single moment of every single day."
"'Above all, remember that the meaning of life is to live it as if it were a work of art. You're not a machine. When you're young, start working on this great work of art called your own existence.'"
"'But no matter how much the mess and diestortion make you want to despair, you can't abandon the work because you're chained to the bloody thing, it's absolutely woven into your soul and you know you can never rest until you've brought truth out of all the distortion and beauty out of all the mess - but it's agony, agony, agony - while simultaneously being the most wonderful and rewarding experience in the world - and that's the creative process which so few people understand. It involves an indestructible sort of fidelity, an insane sort of hope, and indescribable sort of ... well, it's love, isn't it? There's no other word for it ... And don't throw Mozart at me ... I know he claimed his creative process was no more than a form of automatic writing, but the truth was he sweated and slaved and died young giving birth to all that music. He poured himself out and suffered. That's the way it is. That's creation ... You can't create without waste and mess and sheer undiluted slog. You can't create without pain. It's all part of the process. It's in the nature of things. So in the end every major disaster, every tiny error, every wrong turning, every fragment of discarded clay, all the blood, sweat and tears - everything has meaning. I give it meaning. I reuse, reshape, recast all that goes wrong so that in the end nothing is wasted and nothing is without significance and nothing ceases to be precious to me.'"
quotes from Drops Like Stars by Rob Bell