Is our pain in vain?
The short answer is no.
Do we need to move THROUGH our pain?
The short answer is yes.
But it has taken years for me to come to that realization. There is a quote that says, “The only way to heal is identify, confront, and experience the painful unresolved aspects and losses in our lives and to dismantle the lies and unhealthy coping tactics we have adopted to survive.” Yes…if we want to live, and not just survive, there is a reason for us to look at the ugly puzzle pieces in our burden bags.
We all use various forms of unhealthy coping tactics, some of which are: drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, pornography, technology, being perfect, working, shopping, sex, control…
Just over four years ago, both my son-in-law and my dad passed away within months of each other; Aaron in June, Dad in October. I had definitely numbed myself and was using various coping tactics to survive. And I knew it.
Romans 5:3, 4 says: Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. The Message Version uses the term “shout our praise” instead of “rejoice”. Rejoicing doesn't mean rejoicing FOR the pain, it means rejoicing in God DURING the pain. I wasn’t rejoicing or shouting praise – I was existing. I was surviving. I felt no joy. I felt no hope.
There is a hard lesson I have learned. Joy is made all the more real by pain. But I wasn’t feeling the pain. I was numbing it.
This diagram shows what was happening. I was at point A and going down. I was sad and depressed. I desperately wanted to be at point C, a point of feeling a twinge of joy and hope, but I used my coping tactics to get there. But they were falsely taking me to point C and I kept sliding back to point A…
By Christmas of that year, it was time to face the music. I knew it was time to start moving through the turmoil.
What I needed was to move THROUGH the pain, to its depths, so that I could have a firm foundation to stay at point C. Oddly enough, the diagram looks like a smile.
I had laid on the couch. I looked at the Christmas tree. I put on some sad Christmas music. And I wept. And I wept. And I wept.
Our society is very uncomfortable with pain. Our society is very uncomfortable with tears. My husband was one of them. Because of the work we do at the Center, he was just starting to understand the need for someone to “be with” another in their pain. There is no need to say anything. There is no need to fix it. That’s God’s job. Just giving someone the freedom to feel and move through the emotion can start the process of healing a broken heart.
By day two of me laying on the couch and crying for what seemed like long periods of time to him, he said, “I think you need to go and see someone…”
My response was, “No, I don’t need to see anyone. What I need is for you to be with me in my grief. And if you can’t do that, then I need you to just leave me alone so that I can move through this.”
As I said, he was just starting to understand. To his credit, he didn’t say anything more. He did what I asked and left me alone. But he gave me the best Christmas present I could’ve received. He didn’t leave the house. He would go to another room when I cried. But I knew he was there.
“Pain by itself is merely pain, but the experience of it, coupled with an understanding the pain serves a worthy purpose is suffering. Suffering can be endured because there is a reason for it that is worth the effort. What is more worthy of your pain than the evolution of your soul?” – Author unknown
Was my pain in vain? No. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it made me stronger for what I’m going through right now.
Do I have hope? Oh yes…