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The Table Video

Array Array& Lynn Underwood

Saying Yes in the Face of Suffering

Professor of Psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University
Senior Research Scholar, Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University
June 9, 2017

Saying Yes in the Face of Suffering


I wrote a book recently, Spiritual Connection in Daily Life, and it had a chapter in the middle called Yes and it was about saying yes to life. And when we think about saying yes to life, we think about happy times or whatever, but it was kind of about being in our own shoes when we’re in the midst of trouble, too. Where it feels uncomfortable to be where we are, suffering, but being willing to be in it long enough to really experience it.

And I’ve found that when I was writing the book that was the hardest chapter to write because to write it I had to stand in my own suffering, I had to, kind of, touch back into it, and it was not fun. [laughs] And if I wanted to write something that would help people, I thought I had to be there in my own suffering. And, it’s not the same as being blindly optimistic, everything’s going to be happy in the end, all will be well, smiling, over the top. But it’s allowing yourself to feel the sad feelings and Einstein said that the most important question was “Is the universe friendly?” and I thought that was really nice.

So when you feel your own feelings, can you hold the tension between those feelings and either a theological concept of a benevolent God or a sense of your own religious perceptions, and also, you know, the fact that you’re suffering and you’re in a bad place. And I think we are, if we don’t feel the pain that we have, I can really see how that works with the clients you’re talking about, because that has been my own experience, too.