“Suffering seems to be a part of life for nearly everyone at some point.” Says Linda Calhoun, author of Awake Beloved and Arise: Transforming Suffering Into Strength. “However, it’s also a profound opportunity for our development if we choose to learn and grow from it.”

Calhoun has written an inspiring book that offers understanding, new insights, and direction to help deal with the difficulties life can bring. Drawing from her experience as a leader in professional and personal development, facilitating as a Christian spiritual instructor at the County Jail, and from her own life as a single mother with a disabling illness, Calhoun addresses suffering as a human experience, the dysfunction that contributes to it, and how to heal from its effects.

Filled with compelling stories from a variety of voices, including Calhoun’s own experience, this book provides a framework of encouragement, motivation, and practical tools. “No matter who we are, God wants our success, cares about our suffering, and will help us to grow and triumph from it.”

BookTrib sat down with Calhoun to discuss the book and the experiences that serve as the framework for it.

 

Q: Which of your experiences is the writing of this book based upon?

A: An abusive marriage, divorce and subsequent poverty while being a single mother experiencing a disabling chronic illness.

Q: Why is it important for humans to experience suffering? Have your views on this matter always been this way or has experience helped them evolve over time?

A: Even though we do not want it, suffering seems to be a part of life for nearly everyone at some point. Why? There are many reasons, but the fundamental one is that it provides a profound opportunity for our development if we choose to learn and grow from it. In experiencing and dealing with suffering we can develop strength, deeper wisdom, and compassion for others in such a way that our hearts and minds literally expand. In that process we become more. I had never thought much about suffering until life brought it to my attention so dramatically. Learning from it has been an ongoing process for many years. Still happening, still growing!

Q: What inspired you to share your wisdom with others?

A: A dear friend and I spent a week together after years of little contact. As we caught up on each other’s lives we realized that although our paths were different, we had both come to a place of peace and understanding despite the difficulties of the way. I had never imagined writing a book until I heard the words, “We need to write a book!” come out of my mouth, and I was filled with an absolute, undeniable certainty that that was supposed to happen. While pondering one day, a clear outline complete with chapter titles came to my mind, and Awake Beloved and Arise: Transforming Suffering Into Strength is the result. My friend from that week, Susan, is also writing a book, ABC’s for Families, based on her training and experience in early childhood development.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from this book?

A: That readers feel supported and empowered for their own personal journey. Realizing that there is purpose in the challenges of life, that God understands and loves and will help us, changed everything for me. Life can be very hard, and it can crush us or strengthen us. Awake Beloved and Arise: Transforming Suffering Into Strength offers hope, compassion, new insights, and real, tangible tools to help successfully deal with the pain and difficulties the odyssey of life can bring, while finding joy in the journey.

Q: How does your role as a mother and correctional facility advisor inform your view of suffering and strength? Have you noticed any parallels between them?

A: What an interesting question! Raising a large family was tremendously challenging, and especially so after divorce while dealing with a serious illness. That extremity brought me to God, who provided the strength, guidance, love and support I needed. Despite the real difficulties, motherhood was and is a joy. In my work with inmates at the jail I see women in trouble who need help in their lives. Some acknowledge it and are open to change, some are not. In my experience, those who commit to change and enlist God as a partner have the highest success rate. There is the parallel: No matter who we are, God wants our success, cares about our suffering, and will help us to grow and triumph from it. Whether it is our own journey or we are helping others, satisfaction and joy are the result.

Read BookTrib’s review of Awake Beloved and Arise here.

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About Linda Huntzinger Calhoun:

Growing up in northern New Mexico, when Linda was ten, she taught herself in three focused days to ride bareback on a cowboy horse named Gravy, and the world opened up. That self-reliance saw her through a childhood with busy, well-meaning but emotionally neglectful parents. She was an airline stewardess (now called a flight attendant), an interior designer and has survived an abusive marriage and single motherhood. In that process, she says, “I began to figure some things out.” Although dealing with a serious chronic illness, she created and taught seminars in Professional and Personal Development to business, academic and government leadership groups, was a spiritual instructor at a large County Jail, and at the age of 67, completed a Bachelor’s Degree in the Humanities.

Linda relishes nature, the Fine Arts and people. She has settled at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains, with access to the stunning red-rock country when it calls.