Just when you think you’ve reached a place where “normal” actually means something, turmoil swirls beneath your feet yet again. You’re in pain. Your heart feels wrenched, your soul is wailing, and the agony is all the more horrible for being contained behind a smiling face.
It may not even be your own pain. Sharing someone’s pain is just as necessary, just as unexpected.
Every time it hits, a part of me steps back and wonders–what will I do this time?
There have been times when I’ve been left gasping, swirling hopelessly in emotional typhoons until I crash headfirst into the Rock of my salvation. I don’t like it when I do that. Crashing leaves me a little numb at first and it seems to take a longer recovery.
There have been times when I’ve summoned all my willpower to section off and store what is hurting me behind a door I never open. Of course, the door is never sealed properly and the bitterness leaks out, smelling foul for stagnation and soul decay–until I let the purifying fire of the Holy One burn away the filth. I don’t like it when I have to burn away bitterness. It leaves me much more vulnerable than I would have been if I’d dealt honestly in my circumstances.
There have been times when I somehow turn all that pain into a rage and I find myself frantically beating down a mountainside of trust with my raw fists. I scream and flail, half-blinded by debris, insatiable for the complete destruction. Only, I always end up having to rebuild, even if I was the one wronged, because my Father has taught me to value trust. And somehow it’s harder to rebuild when I’m so tender with self-inflicted wounds.
But there have also been times when I go straight to the King with my grief. The typhoon is still there, but I’m already on the solid Rock. The hurt still oozes, but it’s clean, purified, and ready for healing. The rage still threatens, but hope perseveres as my Father holds my hand.
Pain is part of our destiny. We don’t like the truth of it, we sometimes try to blame God for it, but if we are realistic with ourselves, we might start to understand. I haven’t wrapped my mind around it yet, but I’m getting there. Somehow, against every instinct, I am learning that pain itself is not good or bad. Pain is opportunity. Pain is meant for progress. Pain is a reminder that the true Center of the Universe–He, in His holiness, deserves so much more than we tend to give.
I don’t mean to sound callous, but when it comes to self-interest, most of us have that down to an art. What if I could train myself to react to pain with the question, “What will You teach me, God?” instead of the dark-edged, “WHY, GOD?!” I have a feeling the “why” always has something to do with the undeniable fact that this life is not about me.
It’s simply not about me.