I know what it feels like to experience pain so deep, so profoundly, that it knocks the air out of your lungs, burns a hole inside you with such force that you can’t run from it, and kicks your knees from behind, leaving you off-balance, weak, and desperate.
I am transported back to these soul-battering moments of my life every time I witness someone else’s pain. Watching their features contort in anguish, hearing their cries of hopelessness and loss as someone or something they love is ripped from them… It feels so real to me. I can taste it all over again, that bitter brew of life’s betrayal.
I sometimes wonder why I have experienced so many things in such a short amount of time. Was it just a matter of a one-time decision that resulted in the avalanche that followed?
Could they have been prevented?
I can understand one or two of them happening since they are fairly common occurrences in our broken world:
- The divorce rate is high, and since I was so naive when I got married, I guess I can’t be surprised even though I worked really hard to keep it from happening to me.
- Miscarriages, infant deaths, accidents, tragedies… They happen every day, as sad as that sounds.
- Cancer is everywhere, touching everyone in some way or another.
- Having a child with special needs is not tragic, or uncommon.
- Depression, anxiety, weight gain, and low self-esteem are sort of everyday fare for a large percentage of women.
What I am left with is an acute sense of empathy, as well as sympathy, for others who are in the middle of hard things in their lives.
Circumstances that leave them shattered. Aching. Bereft. Lost. Stuck. Hopeless. Numb.
Shrieking in pain. Angry. Sad. Betrayed. Disappointed. Hurt. Afraid.
Crawling inside themselves to get away.
Wishing they were seen and wanted.
I know these feelings well. I have lived them all.
My road has been long, dirty, stinky, hazardous, and winding as I have journeyed through a desert of pain and loss looking for the Jordan River to cross over into something new and green. Somewhere alive and flourishing.
I could smell the water from afar. I could imagine the sounds as it lapped against the shore. And to my pleasant surprise, I am finally at the water’s edge, only because I have followed the One who promised to lead me if I will follow.
The trick has been to trust this God who has shown Himself to me, inviting me closer even when I didn’t understand. Even when I felt like all that mattered had either been taken from me or had evaded me, He somehow persuaded my heart full of holes to believe in what I could not see. To learn how to hope again despite evidence to the contrary.
I know I’m not the only one who knows the tang of despair.
Who is familiar with the smothering cloak of defeat, wondering if this is all there really is.
And who recognizes the tug of the current threatening to pull them under while they tread water, knowing they have mastered this act of survival, all the while fighting the heaviness of the wishing-stone around their ankle.
Today I read Philippians 1:6 and know that He taught me to learn it years ago for good reason. To grab hold of it, to yearn for the truth of it to become reality within my heart.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
He smiles at me and with me. He chuckles at me and with me. He takes great delight in showing me His heart toward me and toward those around me.
He wants me to know how much I am loved so that I never question it. He wants this love to so pervade my being that it leaks out of me just as fast as it fills me, sticking to the souls of the people He sets in my path.
So, I don’t know the answers to all my why’s. But I do know that I am tender towards Him.
And I know He is faithful.
So, so good.
In all the ways that matter and more.
It’s beautiful, this life. He’s taken all the piles of crap that were heaped up along the way, and used them as fertilizer… See how smart He is? I love how green and luscious it is here, and I am so grateful to experience it. As hard as it is to re-feel those difficult times, I am in a new place now.
All because He promised.
And I believed Him.
– love love