Joy And Pain

Joy and pain can co-exist.” –Lois Raby 

Her words jumped off the video, right into my heart.

She had lost her husband in a hot air balloon accident when their girls were still young.

Now years later, her daughter was getting married….and her Daddy wasn’t there to witness the great event.

Joy for the wonderful union of her daughter with the man she loved. Pain because of the one that was missing.

The thoughts, the memories, swirl through my mind and touch my heart.

My son has convocation at his school tonight.

He will be honored for all his achievements.

This mama’s heart will be overflowing. So much joy for him, mixed with some sadness for his father who isn’t here to see it.

My son was five when his father died. He was just beginning kindergarten, the autumn we buried his dad.

He was just starting. A sweet and innocent five year old, turning the first pages at school.

Years have come and gone, and he is now a graduating senior, closing this chapter of his life, excited to open the next.

Preparing for this……thrilled for him.

Realizing that joy and pain can and do co-exist.

 

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24  KJV 

 

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Everyone Struggles

Everyone struggles.

Everyone.

Sometimes the struggles are evident and easy for all to see. They are “in your face”, blatant. Raw.

Sometimes the struggles are more subtle.

Either way, the days can seem so very hard.

There are times in life when we find ourselves walking in the valley. In this deep valley the shadows are long. The path ahead is rough and hard and it is easy to trip in the darkness. Bruised and broken.  Moving forward, but still holding on to the past.

Life is hard. It always is.

A former pastor once said, “In life, there are three places…When we are heading into a difficult time, we’re in the middle of a difficult time, or just coming through a difficult time.” It’s true.

I don’t like the difficult times. No one does. I fight through them.

The battles leave me weary.

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I’m not the only one who has ever walked through the valley…it seems that David also understood. These life struggles are nothing new.

 

Hear my cry, O God;
    listen to my prayer.

 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
    I call as my heart grows faint;
    lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
 For you have been my refuge,
    a strong tower against the foe.

 I long to dwell in your tent forever
    and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Psalm 61:1-4 NIV

Painful Perspective

Hospital

Image by morrissey via Flickr

I was wiping down the kitchen counters yesterday morning, like I’ve done every other morning of my life. Nothing different. Nothing spectacular.

I felt my back catch. In a short time I was almost completely incapacitated. I fell to my knees. My husband helped me to the bed…and that is where I laid, flat on my back for the rest of the day. It was excruciating to even roll over. I could not get comfortable. I needed assistance to even get to the bathroom. How humiliating. I cried. I was frustrated. I hurt.

It is amazing how very boring it is to just have to lay down. Most times I love to lay down, taking a nap is a wonderful thing….until I’m forced to do it. My sweet husband called chiropractors…and wouldn’t you know….no one answered. We left messages. No response. So, I dealt with the pain.

I’m not very good with allowing others to help me.

While laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, I had the thought about my plight being temporary. For whatever reason, my back gave out, but it wouldn’t be forever……I would get through this.

Pain has a way of making us, or at least me, see more clearly. In the dark of last night I prayed. “God, I hurt so bad. I can’t get comfortable, no matter how I turn. I’m so tired….please give me rest.”

My mind wandered to all those people that live in this kind of pain on a daily basis. Would I handle it with grace? Or frustration? Would I scream at God to stop my hurting? Or would I allow Him to work everything out for His glory? I like to think that it would be the latter…..but…. The pain perspective is difficult to learn…much less to live with. Would I trust Him IN the pain? Would I continue to love Him DESPITE the pain? Would the pain be a catalyst to draw me closer to Him? Or a wedge to keep us apart?

My back is still hurting today….still severe, but not as much as yesterday.

I will get better.

The questions of yesterday linger…

My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. (Exodus 33:14)

When Walking In Pain

crying in the party

Image by 竜次 ryuuji via Flickr

This week we are continuing to talk about being Christ-centric.

Making Christ our center.

Keeping Him in the center of each day.

In the center of a life.

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I’ve been thinking about pain, lately…

I cut my knee the other day. It bled a lot and it hurt.

I had a headache earlier this week and it made my neck stiff.

I don’t like pain. I don’t like to hurt. I try to shun it at all costs, if I can’t do that,  I learn to tolerate it.  Sometimes pain doesn’t show itself in a bloody knee, or a sore neck. Sometimes it shows itself, in ways that hurt to much to talk about.

Some days it is easier to deny the pain.

For awhile.

But then I’m forced to deal with it. Not always well. I struggle.

I am alone in my thoughts.

Isn’t that the way of the human heart?

The thoughts rush through me, much like a tsunami. I wonder if this is what it feels like to drown?

…A friend who is watching the son she once knew, slip away to a confusing medical diagnosis–and doctors who don’t hear her.

…Another friend who has to put his dear wife in a nursing home because her care has become to much for him

…A friend whose husband was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, at 46

…A marriage dissolves

…A family that sits in an emergency room

…An unplanned pregancy

…Broken family bonds

…Poor decisions

…Hours cut at the job, when one is barely making ends meet

…A family member whose body is worn down from cancer treatments

…A widow, whose husband was taken from her by a man with a gun

And the list goes on.

Pain. Stinging pain.

How do I live a Christ centered life…how do I show Christ to others, when there is so much pain?

When the heart is burdened and the tears build

When an answer isn’t given

When nothing seems to make sense

When facing the dashing of dreams

or the certainty of death…

I want Christ in the center.

I want Him not just near me. I want to be full of Him.

I want to be reminded that I do not walk alone.

I need to remember that nothing can separate me from Him. Nothing.

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8: 38-39

AMEN

Asking ‘Why’ Is Normal

PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer's disease

Image via Wikipedia

I have a lot of family and friends that are dealing with illness themselves, or illnesses of those they love. Some of the loved ones have had tests come back, with news that is not very encouraging. Some of them are having to learn to live with a chronic condition, others know they are dying. Friends and family members are having to learn about scary medical terms, and medical diagnoses that they can’t really get their mind around. Scared. Angry. Sad. Confused. Accepting. Forgiving. Frightened. Heartbroken. Encouraged.

Many times people ask ,”why”? Why me? Why my husband? Why my wife? Why my child? Why cancer? Or an incurable heart disease? Or Alzheimer’s? Or Cystic Fibrosis? Or a myriad number of other medical conditions that change the lives of the ones that have them, as well as those that love them.

Why is a huge question. If I had the answer to that, I would be a much sought after woman. Sometimes I blog about funny things, or controversial things, and sometimes I blog about things that make others sad. Sometimes I just feel led to blog about a certain thing, something that is on my heart. But, I don’t have the answer to, why.

I have mentioned in previous blog entries that my husband and I co-facilitate a GriefShare group. The group is for those that have lost someone close to them. This last group meeting was about the question, why. I learned some new things last week, or at least was reminded of them. I want to share some things with you. I never know who is touched by what I have to say, or whether the things I mention help anyone….but, if I say even one thing that does answer a question, touches a heart, turns a soul toward God, or gives some reassurance…then it is worth it.

1. We are all terminal patients in this life.

2. Everyone is going to die…it’s just that most of us aren’t forced to think about it.

3. “When you ask ‘why’,  you are in essence validating your own humanness and realizing you are not in control.” —Dr. Tim Clinton

4. There are questions that we have in this life, that will not be answered this side of Heaven.

5. My finite mind cannot understand an infinite God. If I could understand all His reasons,could understand why He allows the things He does, that would make Him a very small god.

6. Knowing ‘why’ wouldn’t make the hurt any less.

7. God reveals enough.

8. Attitude might not change your circumstances, but it does change YOU.

9. We are each on a journey. Some journeys are longer than others. Some have more struggles than others.

10. Everyone is going through something. Sometimes others can see it. Sometimes not.

11. Life is like a tapestry. God can see the beautiful story that he is stitching together from His perspective in Heaven. Down here on earth we can only see the “ugly” side of the tapestry. We see the knots and strings, the stops and starts, the new threads…on the underside of the tapestry. It doesn’t make sense to us…because we can’t see how we each fit into the picture. But God knows. He knows what He is doing.

12. It is good to feel a part of something bigger than yourself.

13. Illness and death are scary for everyone involved.

14. Being scared or angry is normal.

15. You don’t have to stay scared and angry.

16. It is a choice.

17. I wish I could hug everyone that is in pain.

18. And cry with them.

19. Tears are cleansing.

20. Jesus loves us. He understands grief. When His friend Lazarus died, the Bible tells us that Jesus wept.

21. Jesus understands pain.

22. His love caused Him to lay down His own life for us.

23. He loves each of us that much.

24. Pain is not because God hates you.

25. He has not forgotten you.