My first appointment was Thursday, and I cried through most of the hour. I don't think most people who meet me on the street would have any clue that I am almost always on the verge of tears. If you could peel back the layers, you would know that I am crying on the inside. Well, I peeled back the layers on Thursday, and I feel like I've opened Pandora's box. These things that I try to live above and push down are coming to the surface, and I am left with this pervasive sense of sadness.
I've been in a great bible study this summer (Restless by Jennie Allen). On Tuesday night, our little tribe of restless women went outside and lit sparklers against the backdrop of a darkening sky. We were declaring our own personal Independence Days, proclaiming our freedom in Christ... free of fear, guilt, shame, regret, our pasts... free to take the leap of faith, to jump, to say "yes," to be all in, to sparkle and sizzle and shine and brighten the darkness... to be lit by others and to light the "sparklers" of those around us.
I remember how quickly those sparklers burned down to nothing, and I remember thinking, 'How apt!' Our lives really are that short, aren't they? It was all over in a matter of seconds. Yes, earth is short, and heaven is long. How I need to have my vision shifted! My perspective gets distorted because earth can seem so long, and heaven can seem so far away and unreal. But the truth is just the opposite: "For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!" (2 Corinthians 4:17, NLT)
Here's the thing: pain sometimes causes me to lose the story line. I admit it.... I've lost the story line these past two days. My focus and desire has solely been on making the pain stop.
- Cancel counseling: I'm not strong enough to go there yet.
- End my life: I'm not strong enough to handle any of this anymore! I'm tired of struggling and hurting! I just want to be home!
- Take a pill: How many Xanax or Vicodin will make this feeling go away? Maybe there's a new antidepressant I can try.
I will sit with my pain... not to wallow in it or feel sorry for myself or get "stuck" here, but I will sit with it because I'm beginning to understand something that changes everything. I don't think it's the pain itself that is so debilitating; rather, it's my fear of the pain! I do anything to avoid it, to not feel it. My soul cries, 'Get me out of here! Make it stop!' However, I always end up in a much worse place when I go down that road of avoidance at all costs. My attempts to avoid pain have only increased my pain. What if I just enter in instead of throwing an emotional temper tantrum and looking frantically for an exit door, attempting to flee?
What if the pain is a friend? Maybe I'm not just crazy, fragile, weak, and broken. Maybe the pain is my truth that refuses to be silenced. Maybe the pain is the healthiest part of me. Maybe my pain is an indicator light on the dashboard of my soul, telling me that things are not right. It's as if God installed these warning systems for our hearts... because He so wants us to experience abundance that He makes the lack of abundance uncomfortable! He knows that without the indicator light of pain, we would stay in the comfortable "less than" and miss all that He has for us! Oh, yes, we are fearfully and wonderfully made indeed!
So, I will sit with my pain as with a friend. "Hello, dear pain. What are you here to teach me?" I will enter in without fear. I will trust that all things are working together for good.
Yes, even this.
Yes, even for me.