sometimes even discussing pain feels like a mountain that has to be traversed. pain is real. it happens to everyone. it happens when we do things right and when we do things wrong. it happens because people do things to us and when we do things to others. there is no getting around it. sometimes it’s a little bit of pain and sometimes it hurts like hell.
that being said…
for most of my life i have skipped past the pain to the smile. an optimist on the outside. the proverbial smile glued to my face. and then every so often it would catch up to me and i was sobbing into my pillow as i desperately tried to fall asleep, but no one knew.
in recent years, however, i have much better understanding of how to process that pain. how to not just brush it aside. not just disregard it. but just because you feel it, process it, and grow from it doesn’t make the pain easier to bear or more pleasant in the moment.
even when you know God is good. even when you are hearing Him speak. even when you know who you are, pain is still so real. our feelings are valid and help us understand what is going on.
so what do you do with the pain?
i don’t know how someone can endure some of the pain that exists in this world outside of God. truly He is the one thing that makes hanging on sometimes possible. if you don’t know Him but want to, i’d love to tell you how.
Brene Brown says, “We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” so we are either gonna feel all of it or we will feel none of it.
before the last couple of years if someone else was in pain i would try to help them out of it…often that wasn’t what they needed. maybe they just need to sit there for a minute. maybe they needed God to meet them in it before rushing past it. i have been in places of pain that if i moved past it before God was saying go, there would have probably been more harm than good. sometimes you just need a friend to validate the emotions. to sit in the middle of it with you and not say anything.
i remember a few years ago before i really hit one of my more painful seasons, i walked through a divorce with a friend. i didn’t understand her pain but i just sat with her. i felt like God was inviting me to wallow with her. i am still honored by that friendship today. it taught me so much about pain and the process to healing, not just getting past pain.
a few weeks ago i had an interesting experience. i was processing some stuff that was intensely painful. i couldn’t think about this issue without crying. ugly crying. the kind you want so badly to stop from happening but it just happens anyway. i wanted to make it go away with anything i could. alcohol. food. netflix. but i asked God about it. told Him i didn’t know what to do with it and He needed to take it cause it was too much. i didn’t feel the pain go away. it wasn’t rosy. but i knew He was good. i felt His presence.
i say that was interesting cause most of my life i have doubted His goodness. “how could a good God do_________?” “if you’re so good why am i in this excruciating pain?”
i heard a great quote the other day that went something like “if you look at your journey with God and you aren’t different than you were a year ago…you’re probably not walking with God.” when i heard it, it felt harsh. but isn’t that the reality? if i am not looking more like God am i actually letting Him change me from the inside out or am i just saying i am. this is by no means condemnation. God forbid! but it is serious.
we are created in God’s image. He deeply cares and wants to make us look more and more like Him. as we look more and more like Him we see the difference in who we were and who we are. we see His eternal glory and it far outweighs the “momentary and light affliction” even when it seems overwhelming.
next week i’ll talk about how to process that pain.