As I was growing up, when I encountered a disappointment or obstacle that could not be overcome, I was often advised to "offer it up." I did not like this advice. I preferred to try to find a way to overcome the problem. "Offering it up" seemed a very unsatisfactory solution to any situation. To me, the words are identical in meaning to the words, "suffer in silence."
I cannot recall ever telling my children to "offer it up." When they had disappointments or difficulties, I tried to help them find solutions or ways of dealing with the pain. I tried to offer examples of people who stood up to abusers, people who worked for social-justice issues, people who made the best of unfortunate situations.
I do remember trying to help my children put their own disappointments and unhappiness into perspective by talking to them about others in the world who were suffering much greater tragedies. I asked them to consider how they might use their own pain to remind them to pray for those less fortunate, for those who were going through similar situations or situations that were more harsh.
Using our own disappointments as a springboard to pray for others in the world who are suffering has become a good method of prayer for us. When someone in our family is experiencing an unfortunate situation, we try to remember to join our own pain with the suffering of others who also are having difficulty. For us, this translates the advice of "offering it up" into an exercise that we find helpful. Instead of being centered on our own problems, we realize that others need our thoughts and prayers. It reminds us that we are connected to others through prayer. It also reminds us of how many things we have to be thankful for and how richly blessed we really are.