Due to the nature of what I write about and the demographic of people I have chosen to reach out to, I hear about pain all the time. All.the.time. I hear it in emails, in my blog comments, in my Facebook groups, when I speak, when I meet for lunch with someone. So much pain. So many women with one thing in common: their marriages turned out to be nothing like they had hoped, and some of them are trying to stay in them and some of them are no longer in them. Pain upon pain.
But I’ve long believed that good can come from pain. I’ve long held to the truth that God loves turning hard things into gorgeous things; old things into new. But something that I’m ascribing to more and more each day is that you don’t have to wait until you’re through the hard thing for the gorgeous and new things to appear. As hard as that may be to believe.
I’m reading a beautiful and hilarious book called Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton and she tells a story of the time she did a bike ride to raise funds for AIDS awareness and she talks about how it was long and tortuous and she hated it and wanted to give up and then this happened:
“So I approached one of the mountains, already defeated. And a thin, gray-skinned, baldish man on his own bike rode up beside me. The man had hollow cheeks and eyes that were set too far back, like caves. So skinny and small, like a jockey with a vicious flu. I made confused eye contact with the grayish man and he put his hand on my back. He read my pain and said, “Just rest, I’ll push you.” And I cried and rested my legs and let myself be carried. I didn’t understand how he was doing it, how he was pushing me up that hill, riding his bike and my bike, one hand on his handlebars and one hand on my back. But slowly, together, we made it to the top. And I squeaked out a thank-you, and he looked right at me with his cavey eyes and said: thank YOU. Then he turned away from me and rode back down the hill to carry another rider who couldn’t carry himself. And I turned back to watch him go and saw that there were at least twenty of these angels—twenty men with hands on the backs of other women, other men twice their size, pushing them forward and upward. They stayed at the bottoms of the biggest mountains along the route, the mountains they knew we’d never climb on our own, and they carried us. One at a time. Then back down for another, and another, and another. ’Til we were all on the other side of the mountain, together. I later learned that they were called the AIDS angels. They were so sick. Many were dying of AIDS. But they were at every AIDS ride nationwide. Waiting to help the healthy riders over mountains. Do you see? They were dying. But they were the strongest ones. The weak will be the strong.”
So this is my point today. You, sweet one, in the thick of it, barely hanging on, crying yourself to sleep each night, on anti-depressants, in counseling, going to recovery groups, praying and clinging and just trying to get through this one day in front of you…you have something to offer right now.
Let me say that again: you, in your pain, have something to offer someone else right now.
You do not have to wait until it’s all figured out (let’s be honest: it may never be all figured out). You do not have to wait until you feel stronger. You do not have to wait until you feel healed. You do not have to wait until you have more happy days than sad days. You do not have to wait.
Jesus loved and called and used and sent out the weakest ones all the time. There is someone in your life who is hurting more than you are, or the very same amount that you are, or even less than you are. (But who cares, really? Pain is pain.) Reach out. Be someone else’s answer to prayer. Come alongside someone and push her up her hill. Let your weakness lead you to do something gorgeous and new. Right now. In your pain.
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