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What’s Really Happening When You Suffer

Written by Melanie Rogers, MMFT, LPC-MHSP
Photo by Lisa Nottingham

No one escapes life without suffering.

Whether you would describe your suffering as abandonment, rejection, grief, betrayal, or abuse, all suffering can leave us with deep wounds and name us as Forgotten, Unlovable, Damaged, and Disposable.

However, suffering also seems to be a necessary passage through which a great many beautiful, rich, and captivating souls have passed. Though it can be a terrifying choice to surrender our control and be willing to feel the pain of life, there seems to be an element of mysterious mercy at play when we entrust ourselves to this transformative process.

This mysterious transformation can be found in the natural phenomenon of sea glass.

On a recent trip to Northern California, while exploring the wild and rugged sea cliffs of the Pacific Ocean, my imagination was captured as I stumbled upon a magical beach, filled with thousands of multi-colored stones.

The sun was setting and the air was getting chilly as I carefully climbed down a steep sandy path leading to this rainbow colored beach. My friend waited at the top and made a phone call while I searched for the perfect piece of this intriguing sea glass to take with me.

What was alluring me into the story of these other-worldly looking stones?

A little research revealed that this beach of sea glass was created by 60 years worth of trash being dumped into the Pacific Ocean. Everything from bottles to cans, car batteries to appliances, were thoughtlessly pushed over the cliffs into the ocean.

While this abuse of nature is tragic, it is clearly not the end of the story.

The Giant Sea Tumbler responded to this abuse by swallowing up the trash and returning it to us as a mosaic of beautiful treasures. Although this material was discarded…

Something mysterious and magical was happening beneath the surface.

In the wild and good hands of the Giant Sea Tumbler, discarded material is transformed into a new, beautiful, and rare creation. In time, these “useless” fragments emerged from the sea, each as unique as a fingerprint — some symmetrical and shiny, others opaque and complex.

After the work of the sea is complete, these beauties have a new home on the shore and are enjoyed as delightful treasures by those whose childlike hearts have eyes to see them.

Likewise, the process of therapy is one of the elements by which the Giant Sea Tumbler transforms our shamed, discarded, and useless parts into captivating and priceless treasures.

Though sea glass is fascinating, the more captivating wonder is the kindness, mercy, and mystery of the Giant Sea Tumbler, in whose hands there is so much hope for the healing and restoration of our “damaged” and “unlovable” parts.

Could hope be calling you to believe that your pain and suffering is not the end of the story?

Could it be calling you to instead see it as the beginning of a more beautiful story waiting to be told in and through your life? How might this possibility of hope and transformation change your perspective on a difficult situation?

If you would like guidance in this quest for the priceless treasure hidden inside of you, Sage Hill Counseling is here to help.  Connect with a Sage Hill counselor to set up an appointment today.


Melanie Rogers is a therapist at Sage Hill Counseling in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves inviting people to explore their own interior landscapes, challenging them to be intrigued with the bigger story being told in and through their lives. Melanie loves nothing more than to see her clients discovering, recovering, and living from their truest self.

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