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.

 


 

The Struggle with Choosing What Matters Most

CT.1-4
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is a continuation of a previous post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating. 


Better one hand with tranquility
than two handfuls with toil
and chasing after the wind.
~ Ecclesiastes 4:6

The Comparison Trap:  Week One, Day Four… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the devotional include:

I’m totally guilty of having two handfuls with toil and feeling as though I am chasing after the wind. Totally guilty. I have a lot of tranquility in many areas of my life, but I’ve been guilty of compartmentalizing certain segments of my life, too.

In today’s devotional, Sandra Stanley asks a few questions based on the childhood game, “Would You Rather?” The first question really made me think. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it before… this time, though, I think I was supposed to think about it in the context of today’s Scripture verse. That is something I’ve consciously avoided doing before today.

Sandra writes, “Would you rather get the promotion that everyone in the office is vying for or have consistent nights of dinner around the table with your family?”

I don’t think a promotion like that exists at my job, and if it did, it probably wouldn’t take me away from dinner with my family, but the concept of increasing my work time and realizing how that could impact my family did hit me square in the head when Sandra asked that question.

I was an at-home momma for 18 years. I’ve homeschooled all three of my kids, volunteered as a team mom in every sport or activity in which they’ve participated, have enjoyed serving at my church, have helped my husband with a home-based business, and I’ve found fulfillment in cooking great meals for my family and caring for my home. A few years ago, circumstances with my husband’s career changed, and I knew the time was coming when I’d need to consider re-entering the outside-the-home work force. Sixteen months ago a door opened to that possibility, and fifteen months ago I walked through that door.

I enjoy it, but almost too much. Other than now having only one child left to homeschool through high school, none of my family responsibilities have been lessened over the last year or so, even though I do now work outside of the home, too. If I’m really honest with myself, my home-based responsibilities have actually increased in this timeframe.

But I like my work. I work in an aspect of ministry, and being able to do so does my mind and soul some real good! I really cherish the opportunity to help people build personal relationships with God and with others. It’s hard for me to look at what’s written on the photo above, because my job in ministry does contribute to that which lasts… those relationships and bridges I’m helping to build really could last well into eternity.

In this season of my life, there’s another ministry to which I’ve been called:  I’ve been called to care for and minister to my family as the primary caretaker, teacher, and source of income. The ministry of lovingly caring for my husband and my children is important, and I need to make sure I’m focused and available to meet those needs. The relationships and bridges I help to build here are also an investment which will last well into eternity. It’s just not time for me to be spending more mental and physical time at my job than I do in my home-based job.

Based on the Scripture verse for today, the photo with the artistically-crafted reminder, and the insight-filled Challenge of today’s devotional, I really do need to focus upon and dwell upon more of what matters most, because one has a shorter season left than the other. Even though my work time and my home time are both spent “ministering” to how I’ve been called, my primary ministry is to my family. It won’t be long before my youngest child graduates from high school. It won’t be long before my husband will, once again, be able to help to support our family.

My “someday” for whatever is to come will be here soon enough, and when it does come, I can trust that God will open the right doors through which I can walk. In the meantime, it’s important for me to stop toiling in my mind, worrying about the money I need to support my family, and chasing the wind that challenges my contentment in the ministry of being fully present for them.

It’s a season, and soon enough, the wind will change. For now, I need to focus on the tranquility of that one open hand, find a way to help to open up the clenched fist in the other one, and breathe in the peace and satisfaction of knowing that finding balance for all of us is what matters most. The “more of what matters most” is them, and today’s devotional has been a reminder for me.