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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Free to Feel...Pain that Turns to Joy

So, this is what I'm learning now: If we are free to feel the depths of pain, and walk through the pain by the power of the Spirit, the measure of that depth of pain will be turned to joy in His presence. 

I think of Philippians 3, where it talks about sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings by becoming like Christ in his death, that we can also experience the resurrection. Notice which comes first. We like to talk about and share the joy of sharing in the resurrection. But if we're not willing to go through the sufferings first, there can not be resurrection. And if we dare to only go through a little suffering, that will be the shallow amount of joy we experience after we go through it too. I want more.
Psalm 16:11 talks about joy in His presence. I want that joy! I want His presence! He has brought me to a place where I now value that and desire that more than most things in this world at most times. Except pain. I run. I don't want it. I'll do whatever to get away from it. Now hear me: I'm not talking about being a martyr, conjuring up your own "pain" or going after it. We don't really even need to do that. There's enough pain to deal with already there without us having to make up our own. What I'm talking about are the things we ignore, take drugs or drink or overeat or ______ to dull, the things we act like aren't that big of a deal, the things that make us mad because it hurts too much to face that it really hurts us so we just get mad instead. Most of these things are everyday types of things- expectations we have that are unmet, unkind words spoken at a hard time, etc. Some of these things are things we've experienced in our past that may be horrific- some type of abuse, the pain of adultery, etc.  Each of us has experienced some type of pain. What do you do with it? Stuff it? Pretend it's not there? Freak out and then go on like it never happened? Constantly bring it up just to let everyone know why you're the way you are?  What have you done with your pain?
Me: I tend to do all of these at different times. But mostly, I freak. I mean, I'm a pretty outward freak out type of personality. If you've known me for any amount of time, I'd say some words you'd use to describe me would be: boisterous, expressive, extreme, etc. I know that God made me VERY out like that. And yet, you may be surprised here, but I don't even express all that I'm feeling inwardly outwardly. Scary, huh? I bet you're glad too.  :)   
So, I've asked God now what. In my outwardness of dealing with pain, I've often found myself hurting others. I want them to feel some pain. They're hurting me, so let me dish out a little, so they know what it feels like. Or, I'm just getting out my pain and in the process hurt someone back unintentionally. This is not quite right. I've gotten tired of being the source others pain. Life hurts too much on it's own. I don't want to be yet another source of hurt for people. How can I learn from the pain I've experienced and learn from those situations so I'm not doing the same things to others? And now, I'm asking, how can I express the intensity of the pains I feel without hurting those around me?
If you've seen my shelfari on the sidebar, I read the book Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney recently. Through it, I went before God and asked him for what to do next with what I read. Basically it's a great tool for making the best use of the time God's given you and helps with a strategic plan to do that. Having four kids, home schooling, and being a business owner, I can use a plan. Of course, the first thing is making time with God number one of the day. If nothing else, just being with Jesus. Duh. I know that. Yet, with a new baby, etc (and they are very gracious to moms to be and new mothers) it's not always easy. But my newest has been sleeping through the night and I knew that meant it's time for me to get in the groove again. I am so not a morning person. So, this is absolutely God's grace for me to get up while it's still dark. However, He's been faithful...sometimes I'm not so much, but He is. All this to say, that since I've had about an hour of complete quietness before the house starts to stir, much has been coming to my mind. I mean, I have had time to be in stillness. And because of that, I can think straight. And because of that, things are surfacing to my mind that I've kinda been able to ignore by keeping busy or rushed through healing to quiet the pain. At first, I was thinking a lot of my past, things I'd done, things done to me. Then I started having dreams. I was like, what Lord?! Why is this stuff coming now, when I'm having times with you? Shouldn't that be keeping this from happening? And you know what, He answered. It just wasn't what I'd imagined. I believe these things are coming up BECAUSE I've had the time to be still and go before Him. He's bringing things to the forefront that need to be really dealt with. Felt. So I can go through them, not around them. Not stuff them quickly as I "claim" His healing. Most often, deep wounds take lots of time to heal. How do I think mine can be healed quickly?
So, here's where it's left me right now. I can stuff it again. I can get busy again. I could overeat or go wild and dull the pain with drugs or drinking and people say I've lost it. Or I could get really busy with churchy stuff and serve others so much that people say I'm so dedicated. Either would be wrong. Both will leave me unhealed. I am sensing the Lord has something way bigger. Maybe painful. But in the end, way worth it. Because I know that He is worth it, I'm willing. I may lash out at times when in the midst of walking through it, something happens or someone does something that feels like salt in the wound, but I'm hoping God will be strong to get me through that and forgiveness had and a bond made with that someone. 
I wish we'd see that when someone else does something hurtful, it's probably because they're going through something themselves. Often times, I'm so self centered, I can't see the possibility that what someone said or did or whatever is probably them going through their own hurt and struggling through it. Probably, if I'd just expressed that hurt to them and listened to them, I'd see that they're experiencing some of their own pain and we'd be able to walk together through our pains instead of causing more to each other. This is my prayer right now for myself and those around me. We're all in this same boat. There is reason for all the hurt. While we cannot use that to excuse sin, we can be understanding with each other and then go to God together. And then we all get to share in each other's pain and eventual healing. That's mourning with those who mourn and rejoicing with those who rejoice. Sharing in it. That brings real unity. 
God, help us! We're such a mess. And we desperately need You. Thank you for your Hope. Thank you for Your grace. Help us to go to you together. To walk through it together. And then, to see You together. Free us to feel the pain that You will turn to Joy, for our good, and Your glory. Amen!