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…

 


 

When I’m Not Really Happy for You…

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

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


Where you have envy and selfish ambition,
there you find disorder and every evil practice.
~ James 3:16

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

In today’s devotional, Sandra mentions a book called, I’m Happy for You (Sort of…Not Really), by her friend Kay Wyma. Gosh, the title sums up so much of the comparison trap, doesn’t it?

We want to be happy for Heather’s pregnancy announcement, Laura and Jim’s vacation plans to Hawaii for their wedding anniversary, Morgan’s promotion at work, Rob’s big pay raise, Mark’s surprise trip for Jennifer, the news that Karen’s daughter got the lead in the play, the fantastic new home Scott and Kim are building…the names are different in your life, but you know these people. Celebrating with them without letting ourselves dip a toe into the waters of comparison can be tough.

Sandra reminds us that CHOOSING “to celebrate your friends’ good news (and it’s a choice) is the quickest, most powerful antidote to envy.

I’d really, really love to have my friends choose to deeply celebrate my blessings with me, and I am sure they’d really, really love to have me choose to celebrate with them. The envy and selfishness that creeps between our thoughts and our choice to celebrate out loud with others can put us on a path of disorder. 

Make the other choice…the one where we bless others with words which celebrate their lives with them.


 

Choosing Worry Over Trust

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

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


But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
~ Matthew 6:33

The Comparison Trap:  Week Three, Day Seven… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

My takeaway is short and sweet today:  When we worry, it’s often because we don’t trust God enough.

Someone once shared that concept with me, and it’s just stuck. If we’re seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness (the condition or state we’re in that is approved of and acceptable to God), then we will be in a place where worry won’t be necessary. If we’re seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness, we’ll know and trust that He’s got control over what I can’t control.

Sandra says “worry is a crutch for things we can’t control.”

Have you ever tried to walk with one crutch? It’s awkward. You feel lopsided.

When we worry, we aren’t trusting God to take care of the circumstances. Worry is lopsided. Worry is a crutch, and it makes life unbalanced and uneven.

Don’t worry.
Be trusting.


 

The Worthless Pursuit of More and More

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

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


Then he said to them, “Watch out!
Be on your guard against all kinds of greed;
a man’s life does not consist in the
abundance of his possessions.”
~ Luke 12:15

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

“We live in a world of accumulation,” begins Sandra.

We do. We crave abundance, and it’s almost scary how often we can catch ourselves thinking of more, more, more.

Sandra goes on to share the verses after the Scripture above. It’s a parable told by Jesus in Luke 12:16-21:

“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.   17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  18 Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.   19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?  21 This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.’”

There are a few things to note from this parable, outside of the obvious sense of greed and desire to have more:

  • Verse 16 tells us the man was rich and yielded an abundant harvest while he was rich. Apparently, God had blessed the man. Whether or not the man was a “good” man is irrelevant; God had still given him a gift in the form of abundance.
  • Verse 18 tells us what was said by the man. Do we read of him giving thanks?  Of acknowledging God for the abundance given to him?
  • Verse 19 tells us what the man desired from his abundance. Does this show his desire to live for God?  For others?  Or only for himself?
  • Verse 20 gives us some of the answers to these questions. God calls him a fool. Just in case you are wondering…fool basically means fool in the original language. God wasn’t impressed with what the man decided to do with the blessings God had allowed the man to accumulate.

Sandra’s devotional Challenge for Day Four was to mark some boxes designating some of our abundance.

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The boxes I checked in the Day Four Challenge

I’ve visited countries where having just ONE of these line items would be living luxuriously. Some of you have lived in or served in places like that, too. Even so, the trap of comparison keeps us wanting more, doesn’t it?

We’ve been given the blessings in our lives for a reason.

We need to work harder on appreciating those blessings and using them for His purposes, as God often says something different to us than what we are willing to say to ourselves. The richness, wealth and abundance of life does not have to equate to the amount of property, the dollars in our bank account, or the possessions we tend to hold valuable.

“The accumulation of more is a worthless pursuit if what you are accumulating isn’t put to good use for God.”

The material possessions we seek and acquire can’t ever fully satisfy us in comparison to an intimate relationship with God. When we’ve been blessed by Him, it’s imperative that we focus on Him and on how He would call us to use those blessings. Let’s not be a fool.


 

Coming Out on Top in One-upmanship

CT.3-2
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

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


Let us not become conceited,
or provoke one another,
or be jealous of one another.
~ Galatians 5:26

The Comparison Trap:  Week Three, Day Two… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

We just finished talking about the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5, and here, just a few verses later, we’re cautioned in reference to one-upmanship.

This is the really ugly part of the comparison trap.

“Well, at least my marriage isn’t like that…”
“I’m SO grateful my child didn’t turn out like hers.”
“My husband might have issues, but at least he didn’t do that.”
“I deserve the promotion over her, because I work harder.”

Pretty ugly, isn’t it?

“Coming out on top in comparison’s game can lead you to conceit, arrogance and pride,” says Sandra. She then reminds us that “God’s blessings are not supposed to come with strings of arrogance or guilt attached.”

We did just get finished reading an impactful devotion about the fruit of the Spirit yesterday, didn’t we? It might be time for a brief review already, because if you are anything like me, you may not have said some of those phrases above, but you’ve probably thought them (are you willing to admit it?).

In his commentary on Galatians, Dr. Tom Constable makes a suggestion:

“Rather than trying to remove all of our former sinful practices ourselves, we should cultivate the spiritual life, and the Holy Spirit will deal with them.”

He goes on to categorize the fruit of the spirit, defining the characteristics based on their word origins in the original Greek language like this:

Mental or God-ward qualities
“Love” (Gr. agape, self-sacrificing affection for others)
“Joy” (Gr. chara, deep-seated gladness regardless of circumstances)
“Peace” (Gr. eirene, inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances)

Interpersonal or other-ward qualities 
“Patience” (Gr. makrothymia, forbearance even under provocation)
“Kindness” (Gr. chrestotes, benevolence and graciousness)
“Goodness” (Gr. agathosyne, constructive action reaching out to others)

General or self-ward qualities 
“Faithfulness” (Gr. pistis, reliability, trustworthiness)
“Gentleness” (Gr. praytes, acquiescence to authority and consideration of others)
“Self-control” (Gr. enkrateia, ability to master oneself)

When we read through these definitions of what a Spirit-filled life can look like, we don’t associate “ugly” with these words. 

Sandra goes on to remind us that the fruit of the spirit sounds like the exact opposite of the conceit and jealousy we’re warned about in today’s Scripture verse—just a few verses afterward. She says, “To steward God’s blessings well, we just need to display outwardly the qualities of the Spirit that already live inside us.”  

If you are a Christian, then ALL of these qualities do live within you.

Conceit, arrogance and pride also live within us, but when we’re willing to yield to the Spirit, He will steward His blessings very faithfully.