When Nothing Stops the Pain

To you… yes, you…
…the one who just wonders when it will stop.

The tears, the hurt, the pain, the heartache, the whispers, the stares, the comments, the grief, the emptiness, the loneliness, the anger, the what else? wonderings…

I’ve felt your pain. It’s ripped me open from inside-out, too.

It still does, at times.

The newspaper article left out so much; the television story sensationalized everything… and the social media…

Don’t even go there.
Please don’t.

The people there say they are praying for you, but so many of them are on another site sharing the story, and they are sharing their opinion of the one you love / loved / still love / used to love / are confused about.

They forget that you are you, and that you have little ones you are trying to love and protect despite his choices. They ignore that you loved him, celebrated with him, supported him, triumphed with him, and were completely deceived by the him you thought you knew. The one you thought you married…

The hate they spew toward him isn’t necessary. They wouldn’t say it if you were standing right there. They probably wouldn’t even say it that way if they were with their friends. They think tapping out the words on their smartphone gives them the right to use those words and be judge, jury and castrator, just because it wasn’t them who did this.

I get it. I’ve been there.
I’ve read their ugly words, too.

In my dark moments… deep in my head and in my heart… I still am there at times.

I know your story.
I’ve lived your story.
I am your story.

I know you want to wake up from this nightmare.
But when you are awake, the reality is worse than the nightmare, and you just want to go back to sleep.

I’m so sorry.

I don’t feel your pain,
but I know your pain.

I don’t share your tears,
but I’ve shed them.

I’m so sorry for what has been done to you.

You saw it coming, yet you didn’t. You knew there were issues, yet in your heart, you never imagined they were those issues.

What he did wasn’t about you.

You thought, hoped, and agonized that you would have been enough… that your kids would have been enough… that the life you built together would have been enough to have kept him from choosing this.

What he did wasn’t about you.

I know you know that, but I really need you to know that. His choices are playing on every insecurity in you, but this really isn’t about your insecurities, either…

It’s about his. People don’t do this kind of thing without them. They just don’t.

You know that, and you’ve seen them in him. You’ve been his cheerleader, his fan, his friend, his partner. You know how he’s needed your support and your confidence.

You just didn’t know he’d do this.

Now you are questioning yourself with the “If only I had…” thoughts.

Don’t.
This isn’t your doing. It isn’t.
That’s what you need to know right now.

I know you want this to go away, and I know you want the pain to stop. It won’t for now. It won’t for a while.

It’s probably going to get harder before it gets easier.

When easier comes, it won’t be what you expected, but you’ll get there… in time. It’s going to take time.

The system is slow.
The resolution is slow.
The healing is slow.

Take one day at a time.

When you need to, just stop and take one morning or one afternoon at a time.

When that’s too much, just take one hour at a time… and when you really need to do so, just take one moment at a time.

When you’ve accomplished that moment, you can face the next one…

…and the next one…
…and the next one…

There will be a lot of those hard moments, but each one helps to prepare you for the next one.

For now, I have some simple advice for you that will seem like it’s the hardest thing to do:

Take care of those little ones.
Take care of you.

Pray.

Pray for your kids.
Pray for your husband.
Pray for his family.
Pray for your family.
Pray for that girl. Yes, her.
Pray for her parents.
Pray for the haters and backstabbers… you’re going to meet a lot more of them along the way.
Pray for the circles of people who are praying for you… you’re going to meet a lot more of these, too.
Pray for God to give you His strength to deal with all of this mess.
Pray for you.
Pray for yourself.
Pray for your present, your future, your pain.

It’s ok to not be ok right now.
You need to know that.

Someday, you will be ok again.
It’s ok to know that it might take some time.

You are enough.
You are more than enough.

You… yes, you…
…the one who wonders when it will all stop.

You are prayed for, dear beautiful, hurting you…

 


 

Dealing With a Barbarian

I have someone in my life who just rubs me the wrong way. This person annoys me, provokes me easily, and angers me. My reasons are valid, but my reactions are not.

I’ve allowed them to have far too much control over my negative emotions. 

They are an annoyance to my joy, they cause me anxiety, and I find it hard to shake the aggravation that spills over into other compartments of my life.

They are a barbarian…

…at least I think that’s what Paul says.


I started a new Romans study, and Paul smacked me right in the face in the first chapter. The book of Romans has a way of doing that. I’ve experienced it before, and last night won’t be the last time, I’m sure, since I’m only one day into this study.

Paul kicks off chapter 1 introducing himself, and then in verse 5, he reminds us of our role in the opportunity of the Christian life:

“…we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of the faith for the sake of his name…”

Paul is talking about himself and about those with whom he served. But how can we learn from him? How can we frame our life with the reason for his words?

We, too, have received grace for a reason. Yep. We’ve already been offered salvation, and we’re sealed into His saving grace through accepting the free gift Jesus has offered. But the grace Paul is speaking of here is probably an additional gift…the gift of being able to share faith with others.

Keep reading and you see that the gift of grace is being able to be someone who “…brings about the obedience of the faith…” Part of our purpose is to do that, and the best way to do so is through our own example…through our own life and the way we live.

Keep reading through the first chapter and you get to verse 14. Paul tells us about his obligations in the faith:

“I am obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish.”


Fabulous. Paul was obligated to that. As a follower of Christ, am I obligated to the same? Paul knew his role and appointment was to go and spread the good news of the Gospel, especially to those who weren’t Jewish.

But the barbarians, too? Yep.

I couldn’t help but pause to think over how these two passages stood out to me. Perhaps a part of my own purpose is to be an example to others…to show them a kind of faith that brings obedience to God’s leading…perhaps even to the barbarian in my life.

just a thought.

 


 

Finding Hope in Milestone Memories

A friend of mine recently crossed through a milestone moment—the anniversary of the death of her husband.

There’s no shirking the emotions that milestones like this bring about. Three years into her life change is nothing to gloss over, nothing to forget, nothing to celebrate…

…but there has been…

The lost days, the altered plans and the shattered dreams are beginning to yield to the blooming opportunities, new days and optimism she’s finding as she steps out of the losses and toward her new hopes. She’s grown, she’s gotten stronger, and she’s marking her milestone memories with plans for an unknown-yet-hope-filled future. That’s something to celebrate, even if the milestone moment and losses are not.

We all have these milestone moments. All of us. They are those days on the calendar or in our heart that cause us to withdraw and just think. They are our “would’a, should’a, could’a” moments that will always be a part of us.

But it’s what we do with them that counts toward our joy and our internal peace.

When we are walking through them knowing that the hard losses can still help us find our way to a future of something bigger…well, it’s then that our milestone moments are worked for good.

 


 

Finding Hope in Expectant Hope

I have a friend who is fighting a tough battle with cancer, and today she has a new appointment with a new doctor in a new place for a new round of hope in her future.

I often don’t know what to say to someone else who is fighting a battle, but it’s just in my God-given nature (truly, not of my natural self) to pray that people never give up hope. So, I do.

Wondering hope leaves us wondering.
Expectant hope leaves us expecting.

There’s a huge difference between these kinds of hopes, and my prayer is that she can find even more expectant hope through her trial—more than she’s already had to muster up in all phases of this years-long journey.

“Expectant hope is powerful and never wasted.”

Those were some of the words I shared with her this morning as she reached out to her friends on social media before her appointment.


We’re all battling something. 

Maybe it’s cancer.
Maybe it’s abuse.
Maybe it’s racism.
Maybe it’s not being understood.
Maybe it’s legal trouble.
Maybe it’s prison.
Maybe it’s anger.
Maybe it’s pornography.
Maybe it’s bankruptcy.
Maybe it’s pride.
Maybe it’s worthiness.
Maybe it’s food.
Maybe it’s smoking.
Maybe it’s our boss.
Maybe it’s our wayward child.
Maybe it’s our church.
Maybe it’s shattered dreams.
Maybe it’s loneliness.
Maybe it’s fear.
Maybe it’s our past.
Maybe it’s self.

Wondering hope leaves us wondering.
Expectant hope leaves us expecting.

My encouragement to you today (and it’s a needed encouragement to my own self-talk, too), is to stop wondering and start expecting. Expectant hope is powerful and never wasted, especially when you stop hoping in the circumstance, and begin hoping in That which is greater than the circumstance.

 


 

Finding Hope in Friday’s Death

May you find yourself reflecting on what’s He’s done. This post is a more recent take on one done a few years ago about what today brings and how the death of a Friday can mean so much in our lives.

CrossOnHill.HS

Good Friday.  It’s a rainy morning here in rural Appalachia, and it seems fitting for the day Christians around the world mark as one of death and darkness.

…To be beaten, flogged and scourged with a barbed whip until nearly unrecognizable;
…To have a crown of thorns pressed into my head;
…To be nailed to a tree with spikes through my wrists and feet;
…To die by crucifixion alongside common criminals…

No. None of this, I’ve imagined, could be good if I would have to experience it.
I haven’t had to, but I know Jesus has experienced it all.

How could it be that we’d wind up called this a “good” kind of Friday when He had to go through such incredible torture?

It’s about 8 a.m., and I’m sipping my coffee while still in my pajamas and fuzzy slippers. I’m reflecting on the ups and downs and the clarity and confusion over the years in my own journey of faith. I’m also reflecting on what must have been going on more than 2000 years ago. My comfort of today makes me feel uncomfortable in comparison to what He must have been going through in these moments. 

It will be 9 a.m. soon…

Jesus was nailed to the cross in the morning at about 9 a.m.** after enduring questioning, a trial and brutal beatings.

Once that cross was set into place, He hung there until noon**, at which point the skies overhead darkened.

I don’t know if it was a rainy day on the hill of Golgotha that morning in Jerusalem as it is here in the hills of Appalachia, but I have a feeling it wasn’t. God often allows us to see great contrasts in revealing His will for our lives, and that tends to make me think it was a sunny day in Jerusalem.

The darkness lasted for three hours, and around 3 p.m.**, Jesus cried out amid His suffering and suffocation to proclaim, “Tetelestai!”  before giving up his spirit and breath of life.

It was finished.

Done.
Over.
Death.

Most of us automatically equate the “it is finished”  to His life, since, just moments afterward, His life was over on this particular Friday afternoon – the day we commemorate in remembrance as “Good Friday.” However, the “it is finished!”  was much more than just a part of the final words he uttered in the final moments of His life before giving over his life and spirit.

The it is finished!” was His “paid in full” proclamation regarding our sin.

He paid the ultimate price by taking the sins of all mankind – the past, present and future sins of the past, present and future mankind – upon himself and shedding His own blood to redeem us in exchange for Himself. The ransom price was paid, and the salvation plan was now complete. He had completed the will of God and the will of the Father.


That’s where the “Good” comes in. He suffered for us. He demonstrated his self-sacrificing love for us and for our wrongdoings by dying for us (Romans 5:8). What He did for us once does not have to be repeated by all of us (1 Peter 3:18) in order for us to live eternally in His presence (John 3:16).

For the longest time, I didn’t understand how His death could be “good” and recognized as “Good Friday.” I knew He died for us, but I guess I just didn’t fully grasp that He died for ME.


Almost 15 years ago, I went to a new church. On my first visit to this church there was a song sung which stood out to me. I didn’t know it, so I didn’t sing it. I just listened.

There can be such power in doing that once in a while.

I didn’t understand what the words meant, but that song awakened something within me.

The song was Above All.  The words which resonated with me were:

“…crucified, laid behind the stone.”
I understood this.

“…lived to die, rejected and alone.”
What did this mean?
Ok, He died on that cross, but what did it mean that he “lived to die?”

“…You took the fall and thought of me above all.”
Me? Me?!? What did that mean?
What did I  have to do with what He did?
I didn’t get it, but I was curious.

I’ll never forget those words. Even today, they still hold meaning to me. It’s like the stone of death and darkness was rolled away in my own life in some of those moments. An awakening within me had begun. I had come to that new church with questions, but now – after only one visit – there was an even bigger question burning within my mind…and in my heart. It was one that would lead to knowing what He did for ME, and one that would lead to me knowing HIM personally.

That’s what is good about Good Friday.

He died for US.
He died for ME.
If He died for us, and if He died for me, then he also died for YOU.

That’s what is good about Good Friday.


There’s a hope to be found, a purpose for this life, and a plan for your future. It’s all a part of the “good” in what was done for us. If you know the story, but you don’t know Jesus in a very personal way, I encourage you to take some time today to reflect on these thoughts and to think about them.

I then encourage you to reach out to THAT friend you have… you know who I mean… the one who has been living a life of expectant hope… the one who seems like she gets this… the one who has been gently loving you while trying to help you see a different way… Yes, her. Reach out to her on this Good day of Friday, and let her know what you are thinking.

He also died for you. That’s what is good about Good Friday.

CrossOnHill.HS.Verses
Photo taken on a rubbled hill in Costa Rica

_____________________________________________

 **Notes about the times of day:
The Gospel of Mark uses “the third hour” to designate when Jesus was crucified or put on the cross. This would have been 9 a.m. (Mark 15:25). Mark then goes on to say that at “the sixth hour,” darkness came over the land (Mark 15:33). This would be noon or 12 p.m. In Mark 15:34, we are told that Jesus cried out in the ninth hour, at 3 p.m., and then, shortly afterwards, took his last breath (Mark 15:37).
The Gospels of Matthew and Luke use similar time designations (see Matthew 27:45 and Luke 23:44). This way of calculating time was based on the Jewish method, where 6 a.m. would have been the first hour of the day, so noon would have been the sixth hour and 3 p.m. would have been the ninth hour.
It is believed the Gospel of John, which presents a different time for the start of the crucifixion, used a Roman method of time calculation, which would have started the day at midnight (John 19:14). There could have, however, been a three-hour period of time between his sentencing before Pilate (sixth hour) and time Jesus spent under the charge of the soldiers, time spent carrying his cross (John 19:17) and arriving at Golgotha where the crucifixion took place.
Various commentaries show a consistency in these interpretations of time. I’ve used Sonic Light, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, and Got Questions for my sources in this post.

_____________________________________________