Let’s talk about pain. Think about a time when you’ve had a toothache. It’s the worst, right? I’ve even heard it said that “your toothache is the worst pain in the world” because it’s all you can think about and, frankly, because it's yours. Physical pain sets up camp in our life and pretty much dictates us to bow down to it, rearrange our lives for it.
So that toothache of yours? 99% of the time it is a red flag. I’ll give you that 1% of the time it means nothing and goes away by itself, but a majority of the time, your tooth hurting is basically your tooth sending you a message: SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT. THIS WILL NOT FIX ITSELF. YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS. (OR I WILL KEEP HURTING YOU AND I WILL GET WORSE.)
And while you procrastinate calling the dentist or while you wait for your appointment, you are in pain. You are in unproductive, useless, stupid, good-for-nothing pain.
Or I’m thinking about my son. He was injured recently on a Friday afternoon. He came home from college to go to the doctor but we didn’t go until Saturday morning. His body was railing against things not being right and he couldn’t sleep and was in pain from the moment the injury happened until we went to the doctor. Again, stupid, wasteful pain.
And then we went to the doctor. And the doctor did a few things that HURT WORSE, if you can flippin’ believe it. It was horrible. (I was crying, the pillar of strength that I am.) And the doctor said that it would probably hurt the most that day (the day after the injury), after she did what she had to do to fix the situation.
So, the pain while we wait for the dentist appointment, the pain while my son tossed and turned all night long? Stupid, useless pain.
The pain the doctor inflicted upon him? Hmm. Totally hurt. Worse than before for a little bit there, actually. But, this was necessary pain.
And then after that, after the dentist and after the doctor, all pain from that point on would be recovering pain, that would be pain from our bodies readjusting, that would be the pain that we must go through to heal.
All pain before real help? Bad, pointless pain.
All pain after real help? Good, meaningful, purposeful pain.
I’m assuming you’re in some kind of pain. If you read my blog, you are more than likely in some kind of pain.
You’re either in a very difficult marriage. Or you are leaving a very difficult marriage. Or you are trying to parent on your own. Or you are adjusting to being an empty nester. Or you have suffered a loss. Or you are stuck, or having a midlife crisis, or just plain sad.
And this pain that you’re in? You’re not in it for nothing. And it more than likely won’t just up and go away on its own. Your current pain is a message to you from your life, from your heart, from your soul: SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT. THIS WILL NOT FIX ITSELF. YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS.
So, let me ask you a few things.
Are you able to name your pain? Can you write down in a few sentences what isn’t working in your life right now? Or do you have no idea?
If you know, great. If you don’t, that’s step one, my loves. You must ask yourself the hard questions. You must be honest with yourself.
(I mean, technically, you don’t have to. You don’t have to ask yourself anything, you don’t have to be honest with yourself, you don’t have to name a thing. But then what? Only more of the same will keep rolling into your life.)
But once you know, which kind of pain is it? Are you ‘pre-help’? Limping around with an injury you haven’t had checked out? Putting a band-aid on a broken ankle perhaps? Are you avoiding taking any steps because – let’s be brutally honest here – sometimes the chaos is more comfortable than the calm. Or because we’re scared of what our “doctor” may have to do to get us on the path to recovery and healing. Saying ‘yes, but…' to people's suggestions out of stubbornness or fear of the unknown.
To you, sweet one, I want to say that I get it, that I’ve been there. I stayed in my hard marriage for almost nineteen years, and if I’m honest with myself, I didn’t truly start the hard work until about fifteen years in. Up to that, my pain had been for the most part pointless. (Caveat: don’t get me wrong…God sees everything, God uses everything, God can redeem anything, God collects our every tear, I was trying very hard to fix things but I was actually doing things that were making it worse, keeping the dysfunctional dance going.)
So, I’ve been you. And I know it’s scary. But I want to encourage you to take my hand and trust me, and trust God, that there is more hope and more abundance on the other side of the pain canyon. You don’t need to take a thousand huge steps today. You only need to consider taking one or two small ones. Things like, telling a trusted friend or a pastor. Or calling a counselor or trying a recovery group. Or even reaching out to me. (I’d love to help, truly.)
Or, are you ‘post-help’? Are you in the kind of pain that comes from walking the uphill battle, from fighting the good fight, from having the hard conversations, from saying no to lesser things and yes to better but more challenging things?
To you, sweet one, I want to say that I’ve been you too. (I’m still you.) And I get it. And I am proud of you. And you are brave. And you may be so tired but you can do this. Keep walking. Keep fighting. Keep praying. Keep reaching out. Keep showing yourself the grace you would show a precious friend going through what you’re going through.
And know that you are not alone in your pain. God is with you every moment, holding your hand, bolstering your strength, rooting for you to overcome. And you will. One day, you will. And you will be okay. And your children will be okay. And it will all have been worth it.
In God’s economy, nothing is wasted. -Bill W., Alcoholics Anonymous
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