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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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23 Responses to 1059

  1. hahah too flipping true, heard it all before I’m afraid …

  2. Karl Richards says:

    You are amazingly perceptive – after the last 3 weeks I have been through in church I feel EXACTLY like the guy on the floor, even to the point of posting an almost identical sentiment about Nietzsche on my FB page. That which does not kill us does NOT necessarily make us stronger, more often than not it leaves mental & physical scars which can take a lifetime to heal (if at all).

    Thanks Jon

  3. Sarah says:

    If you work with it it does make you stronger because you make it happen.

    That’s my experience but I don’t deal with church anymore so don’t have that stuff to cope with.



  4. Laura says:

    How did you know?? That is me this week! Made redundant from my job Friday with no warning, no information, and no real explanation. I’m stunned and scared.
    That’s me on the ground right now.

  5. Tiggy says:

    I get very tired of hearing such nonsensical platitudes, particularly on Facebook. Have these people never heard of post traumatic stress, of early childhood trauma making people MORE prone to stress, not less? Of people being weakened physically and this making them more prone to other illnesses? The argument seems to be that if you can deal with loads of shit being thrown at you then you must have become a strong person, which is still nonsense and a convenient way of dismissing the fact that someone may be almost over the edge from what they’ve been suffering. A person can be beaten down, crushed and vulneralbe but we dont’ want to accept that and feel the need to put a postiive gloss on it. Would we say to a child that if they are physically or sexually abused that it has made them stronger?

  6. Yes. And the related sentiment, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” As a therapist, I work all day with people who got more than they could handle, who were made weaker and more frightened by abuse or trauma. Healing and redemption are possible, but let’s not dismiss people’s experiences.

  7. Joe Turner says:

    Laura – I’m sorry if this sounds like a platitude, but we know what you’re going through – my wife was told that she was to be made redundant exactly a year ago (after 1 months of work…) having moved house/job/school/life etc. It didn’t make us stronger, the whole experience made us feel lost. There isn’t any getting away from it, redundancy is horrible.

  8. Joe Turner says:

    Guess I’d better just add that we survived, so it could have been worse.. but I still don’t feel it made us stronger..

  9. Fred says:

    I think sometimes that whatever doesn’t kill you just makes you hurt longer.

  10. Becky says:

    As someone who has been subjected to gaslighting by select religious leaders for a number of years, I concur. I have a very resilient personality and was almost broken by this crapola not to mention some deaths that occurred in my teens that I wouldn’t wish on anybody. God didn’t give any of this to me – people who claimed to be “Christians” did. Major difference.

  11. oh wow, sharp one Jon, and sorry to hear about redundancy Laura. and childhood trauma Tiggy. I’m sometimes so aware of the impact of stuff from my childhood, and find it very difficult to sit back and watch folk treating their kids how my Mum treated me. I really don’t think people understand the depth of pain caused to kids by projecting our adult crap onto them

  12. whilst often finding Richard Rohr totally confusing, I like what he says here, he seems to be de-bunking religeous jargon a little

    “most important way is to live and fully accept our reality. This solution sounds so simple and innocuous that most of us fabricate all kinds of religious trappings to avoid taking up our own inglorious, mundane, and ever-present cross.”

    “Living and accepting our own reality will not feel very spiritual. It will feel like we are on the edges rather than dealing with the essence. Thus most run toward more esoteric and dramatic postures instead of bearing the mystery of God’s suffering and joy inside themselves. But the edges of our lives—fully experienced, suffered, and enjoyed—lead us back to the center and the essence.”

  13. Nice, I’ve always disliked the incomplete nature of this aphorism. I do like the expression that ‘what we choose to do with life’s difficulties can make us better or bitter.”

  14. >> TIGGY: Would we say to a child that if they are physically or sexually abused that it has made them stronger?

    While I agree with your sentiment, I do think that there is a half truth here which is important. Some of the greatest human accomplishments are by people who suffered EXACTLY the kind of privation you mention – something about such unjust suffering CAN cause a person to excel, not just self-destruct in some spiral of emotional darkness. While not all suffering makes people stronger, some does, even the most horrific kind.

  15. Daniel – it all has to do with context. After decades of therapy, spiritual direction and healthy friendships, I can see how my messed up childhood helped make me a more empathetic human being. My reporting about those on the margins of society is fueled in large part by these experiences. But I had people say pet phrases to me in setting such as both my parent’s funeral services, while delivering bad news to me and other settings where their words cut like a knife. What worked for me was reading books like Victor Frankl and St. John of the Cross where I entered into their journey and culled from their experiences those bits that worked for me.

  16. Tiggy says:

    Sometimes it does happen that something bad experienced has a profound effect on us that is for the good in terms of our personality, but it’s by no means general enough to merit a platitude. I try to learn from things that have happened to me, but that doesn’t mean i’m better off than if they’d not happened. I occasionally think of what/how I would be if those things had not happened to me, all the lost potential. Someone said I had ‘a vocation for brokenness’. I still don’t know what they meant but it doesn’t sound like something I’d welcome.

  17. Becky – you are right, simplistic sayings like this do more harm that good in a time of grief or in addressing hurt. I recently preached the funeral for a two year old who drowned in her family’s pool, and I offered no such offensive pat answers. I discussed the felt distance and inscrutability of God during such events, the fact that the Bible says that we so suffer and does not give a pat answer, except to say that God is a refuge during such times, not someone to blame and run from.

  18. Joe Turner says:

    Becky, possibly the wrong place to discuss this, but are you suggesting that bad things come from Christians (or any other people) whereas blessings come from God? I’ve been puzzling over this ‘blessing’ doctrine for quite a while. I’m not sure it makes any sense…

  19. Becky says:

    Not at all – in looking back over my very crooked spiritual path, some of the worst forms of spiritual abuse were done to me by fellow Christians who issued platitudes while kicking me in the arse. I see in retrospect that what proved to be the most helpful were those individuals (in person and through books, music, art and the link) who I felt walked along with me as companions. They didn’t preach to me but simply were a presence – and that’s what healed me in the end. I try to do that for others when possible.

  20. jonbirch says:

    thanks for the great conversation people.
    i must say that i’m yet to be convinced that bad things make anything better. what i do think is that bad things happening can lead to a process by which good things can come. i would say that all of the real hardship in my life has made me less able not more able, i would say that certain experiences have made me more fragile not less fragile. however, those experiences have sometimes put me on a course whereby other things happen that bring things to my life that perhaps weren’t there or were unnoticed before.
    whatever the reality, as we all seem to agree, there really is no place for platitudes of this kind. the guy flattened by the steam roller is going to be a tad vulnerable for the rest of his life and that’s a fact. however, he may still live a life which contains and brings good things. he may even become a nicer person… who knows?
    great conversation though.

  21. Marcus says:

    If you switched the speech bubbles round then the saying would carry weight – if the person whom the bad thing is happening to is able to say; that which doesn’t kill me will make me stronger. Sadly those who aren’t going through the pain are all too quick with the platitude.

  22. Pingback: Weekly RoundUp: The Job Edition | The Church Sofa

  23. FrDarryl says:

    For those times people say they Neitzsche…


    but they really just want you to nihil before them.

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