Praying through the Pain

“Are you brave enough to pray and believe that God hears you and changes things?” 

Like a ton of bricks thrown at my heart, making it hard to breathe, I reel through pain that was just a shadow.  Maybe I have been hiding it for many years. Maybe I am good and pretending everything is fine, that I can muster up of the energy and positivity to get through my days.  

Except…there are days I am knocked on my knees with an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety about this life.  The voice that says, I messed everything up, it’s too late to change, I will forever feel this way, becomes louder.  The weight of the heavy reminder of pain of unanswered prayers, of hurt covered up by behavior modification or legalism. 

But NO, I am not brave.  Not even close.  I don’t believe that anything will change.

Faking it or just convincing myself otherwise no longer worked as it did for many years. The answers, the sermons mean nothing and I feel left alone in my darkness.  Some days, I can’t bring myself to sit and talk to God.  I don’t want to acknowledge the pain.  I want to run from it. 

7334554_75e99fcef4

Struggling to sit in the pews and sing the songs without weeping uncontrollably.  It feels painful to sit in my pit of despair next to others who don’t know what to do with a puddle of someone next to them.  Maybe struggle isn’t the right word.  I think I just feel out of place.  Fighting this sense I must be crazy if I can’t just believe and live a neat and tidy life like those around me.  They seem to have zero problems, right? 

Sometimes I wish there as a point in the service where we could all just be honest about what we are struggling with right there before one another, that we would throw away pretence and posturing and truly know we are all in it with each other.

But I am not brave.   If I was to truly understand bravery, I would know that being brave means being honest with yourself and others.

And it means believing when everything around you tells you not to believe.  It is to believe even when no one else does.  When everything in your life says to abandon the belief and turn back. Bravery means to keep going through pain. 

It means standing in front of God, even when when the pain and darkness threaten you in that very moment, believing in a God that is stronger than the pain and darkness.  Believing that God is who he says he is and sent Jesus to overcome the world, so we wouldn’t be overcome by it.

21910990630_31e45c8d20

I write these words today because I myself need to believe them.  I probably do on some level today, but not on the level that I can write this without tears in my eyes.

I want to be that brave.  I want to be able to trust God so strongly that I can get up every day and not have to fake it and pretend that my heart isn’t broken or that I have it all together.  I want to be brave enough to not fight back tears or skip out of church early because I care too much what people think.

Abraham often comes to mind when I think of pain of the unanswered prayers or of years of uncertainty.

“In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (sine he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” – Romans 4:18-21

I am sure it was painful to walk through the day to day when this thing that God has promised hasn’t come true. Perhaps pushing him to make choices that caused more pain. Ridiculed, probably questioned, whispered about and left out of the circle of parents and grandparents. He probably lost friendships with those that had walked through the early years.

It isn’t just the pain from out side but the pain we cause ourselves. Within the darkness, the things we turn to for survival for some comfort or security, losing hope and faith in the day to day, only to be failed again. More pain, self inflicted.  The pain becomes the norm. We don’t want it but stay because everything else starts to feel like false hope. And to hope means to put yourself in a spot to be hurt again.  Cynical and bruised and broken.  Beaten up by the storms of this world.

But…I know a man, who could relate. Bruised and broken, betrayed and idolized. Those around him had thought he failed.  But he came to do what He was sent to do.  Dying the death we deserve.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Could this be, that God, in his Kindness sent his son, as a human man to experience the same kind of beating that we experience, so we would have a Savior that could relate? That can extend a kind of empathy that says, “Me too.”  The kindness that also gives us freedom to experience the pain, but with hope.  The hope of a Savior, that died so that this pain doesn’t last forever.

This life is not without pain, but it is partnered with the sweetness of knowing Jesus.  Know that our hope is not in our own efforts to not feel pain, but in the comfort of God in the midst of the pain.  And on the other side of that pain, whether on this earth or in eternity, it is the joy of knowing the great comforter.

40940183480_b47da8369c

Without pain, we would not know the comfort of our Creator.

That is my prayer, that even if the pain doesn’t go away, even if nothing changes, that you and I would know the comfort, the kindness of our God in a sweeter and deeper way.  That we would know what it means to be loved by a God who is there, even in the midst of the darkest days.  Even when the pain is inflicted by ourselves, that we would allow Him to meet us in the pain, to dispense comfort and healing.

Can we brave enough to open ourselves up for healing?  Or even could we bravely take a step towards Him today, to be comforted even when nothing changes? 

 

 

photo credit: chrisotruro Lime Avenue bw via photopin (license)

photo credit: eye2eye In Living Color via photopin (license)

photo credit: Pascal Rey Photographies DSC_4523 via photopin (license)

Advertisements

Rest

 In these last couple of months it has becoming painfully apparent, is that I am not very practiced in resting. 
I am very good at being busy, 
at saying yes to things, 
filling my schedule to the max,
 and just to keeping running.

Today is the first day of Spring Break and I am under the weather (that is a weird idiom for sick….), and I am laying on my couch. I don’t have much energy to do anything, and I don’t really have anywhere to be.

AND I feel guilty.

I should be doing something, like my laundry, like cleaning my room, writing, and maybe even homework.  I have been given this time, I should really use for productive things, right?

Recently, I have been sick and injured. Sadly, I pride myself on having a pretty great immune system, however, I am realizing that lack of sleep and my busy lifestyle is catching up with me.  During one of the bouts of sickness, I told a friend that I felt bad that I wasted a whole day and wasn’t very productive.

She promptly told me that life…. wasn’t all about being productive.  

This wasn’t the first person to tell me to rest.  My family, my friends, my trainer tell me continually to get more sleep.  Every article I read about stress and anxiety, it talks about the need for a proper amount of sleep. I was also reminded by one of my favorite bloggers, Ruth, who talks about glorifying busyness.

Somehow in my mind, I think that if I push through, if I use these 2 extra hours tonight, I will cross off more on my to do list.  I think that I can stay up later to write this paper or grade these papers.

What really happens is this: I spend 1.5 hours watching TV, or eating, or browsing the internet.

Seriously, I don’t really have the brain power at 9pm to do any work, I just think I do.  Those extra hours that I think I need to stay up are actually wasted rest hours because I think I can use them to be productive. 

Even more so, with a foot injury, I continue sometimes to push through, even though I should really stop and let my foot rest.  I think that I am just being a wimp or weak.  I am just injuring myself further and making my recovery much longer. 

Welp, it seems that I am actually not excelling at resting or being productive.

Machines only run when there is gas in the tank.  So what I really need to learn first is to rest well, to fill my tank, to use my rest time wisely, then….I can actually be more productive and fruitful with my life.

Yes, the Lord is concerned with our fruitfulness, but he has created us to need sleep.  We need rest to remind us that we cannot do it all, we cannot alone do everything ourselves.

We need rest as a reminder of our dependence.  
Our dependence on the one who gives rest, energy, and strength.  
As I have 5 more days of Spring Break ahead of me, I am going to work on resting and filling my tank, reminding myself of who I am actually dependent on.
How do you feel you are doing at resting? When do you feel the most spiritual or physically rested?

One Step at a Time

My senior year of college, I had a lot of things going on.  I was an Resident Assistant, taking a full load of education and theater classes, leading a bible study, and was highly involved in a campus ministry, on top of that was dealing with slight depression.  (Okay, now that I type it out, it doesn’t seem like that much compared to now, but at the time it was a lot.)

I have this distinct memory of driving back from a leadership meeting with one of my best friends and now roommate.  We were both overwhelmed with life and still unsure of what our futures held.  We had senioritis but were no where near close to then end college.  We had to make decisions regarding the next year, but didn’t know what to do first.

Then this song came on and it became our anthem for the year.

You wanna show the world but no one knows your name yet 
Wonder when and where and how you’re gonna make it 
You know you can if you get the chance 
 In your face and the door keeps slamming
 
Now you’re feeling more and more frustrated 
And you’re getting all kind of impatient, waiting 
We live and we learn to take
 
One step at a time there’s no need to rush 
It’s like learning to fly or falling in love 
It’s gonna happen and it’s supposed to happen 
That we find the reasons why, one step at a time
This song echos something that my mother (oh, she is a wise one!) says to me often! It doesn’t always translate directly with a large to do list, but I think it is important to live the life you have now and not get to far ahead of yourself.

One thing at a time! 
As I begin my 4th year of teaching, I am overwhelmed at all the things that I have going on in my life, whether it be the commitments at school, or grad school, or at church, or just maintaining my relationships with my friends.  I have to remember to take one thing  at a time.  Then the future, my to do list, don’t seem so daunting, overwhelming or frustrating.  
Most of these things are good and I want to do them, and perhaps I over commit to things, but still the only way to get through is take on one thing a time.
Yes, I have a lot of things on my plate right now, but the best thing that I can do is take one thing at a time, start somewhere or I will never get anywhere. 
Anyone else like me and get overwhelmed with life?  What other things do you tell yourself when things get to be too much? Do you have an anthem that you sing when you are stressed out?