Tag Archives: pain

An Ode to the Tough Times

2200685325_c42d649733_b

I am in love with the tough times,
inspired by challenges,
by the battles life calls us into,
by the strength to keep stepping,
and the courage to admit
you just don’t know how anymore.
I am inspired by those moments
where what looked like weakness
is suddenly transformed into strength.

I am inspired by the love
that rushes with open arms
to provide a safe place
for those confessions to land.
The love that speaks the truths
you are enough and you are worth it.
The kinds that bolsters our courage,
lends us the battle gear we’ve been missing,
and connects us with the rest of humanity.

Those sacred moments
where vulnerability encounters
pure love and grace
is where God becomes tangible.
It’s where though nothing
in this crazy life makes sense,
somehow, it all makes sense.
The things that matter come into focus
and the rest seems to fall away.

The secret is: the things that matter are hard things.
They ask for a lot of attention to survive,
requiring us to fight for them.
But the beauty of the fight
is that it reminds us just how much heart
and tenacity we each have.
The strength we have,
the courage we have,
the depth of hardships we’re capable of surviving.

And without being asked,
compassion rushes in.
It doesn’t fight the fight for you,
it doesn’t try to rescue you from the pain.
But it puts on a pair of boxing gloves of its own,
wipes the blood off your face,
hands you a bottle of water,
reminds you who you are and what you’re fighting for,
and says,“I’m with you, you can do this.”

And even for the strongest of us,
there is comfort in being reminded
we’re not in the ring alone.

Show Me Your Scars

1736664453_a75afac6cb_o

Show me your scars. Tell me your battle stories – don’t hold back the details, I want to hear it all. The heartbreak and loss and grief. The hard times when joy was merely a discipline, not a feeling. Tell me of the times when you wanted to give up, when pure adrenaline kept you holding on. Be honest about your questions and your doubt. About the times when you had to reconcile faith with reality and the days when you weren’t sure if that was really possible.

Show me your scars with pride because they are evidence that you survived. That you’ve fought hard and your heart is better for it. Your scars have made you resilient. They’re the birthplace of your courage. Signs of your humble strength.

Show me your scars – the dark places where light shines through. The emptiness now filled with connection. Show me your scars and I know it will be safe to show you mine.

Play Hurt

What are we trying to heal, anyway? The athlete knows the day will never come when he wakes up pain-free. He has to play hurt. (Steven Pressfield, The War of Art, pg. 48)

Play hurt. As long as you are living, you will be broken. Some part of you will be weak. You can’t eliminate the pain, but you can participate in the process of it being redeemed. 

That’s a daily choice for me – choosing to play hurt. But I think the opposite of it inevitably leads me to bitterness or apathy. So playing hurt may not be the easy choice. Or the comfortable choice. But, I’d rather limp along in pain than sit idle in bitterness.  

Honestly, I’m not so sure that YOU can heal you anyway. I think we’ve got to keep walking and, in doing so, participate in a process that will find us on the road to healing 6 months, 18 months, 2 years from now.

Don’t wait to be whole before walking alongside a friend who is also broken. Don’t wait to be perfect to write that book you’ve been waiting on, paint your next piece, take your next photo, write your next song. Believe that your creativity comes from a place in you deeper than your pain. And that your pain makes your creativity richer as it flows out through that place.

When You Don’t Even Know What Pieces You’re Holding

As I sat across from my friend yesterday I felt helpless. Stuck. Weak. I didn’t have answers I was seeking affirmation for. In fact I didn’t even have questions I was seeking answers for. All I had were the broken pieces & no idea how to begin putting them back together or what it was I was even trying to put together.

Honestly I’m not even sure I know what pieces I’m holding. 

I got an email from another friend a few hours later “How are you doing? Be honest. Don’t bull crap me.” My response was a paragraph that ended with “So yeah, that’s honest. And messy. You’re welcome. :)”

I don’t remember the last time I felt this strategy-less, plan-less, solution-less. When the problem wasn’t going away because I refused to do what I knew I needed to do but rather because I hadn’t yet even figured out what the problem was. How are you supposed to pray for answers when you don’t have any questions? How do you start putting the puzzle together when you’re not sure if you’re holding puzzle pieces or a random collection of game board pieces from Monopoly & Candy Land?

But you can only dwell on it for so long, right? Because there’s work to be done, meetings to be had, friends to be seen, life to be lived. The world isn’t going to be stopping anytime soon while I figure out what questions to ask.

Why do I tell you this? I tell you this because sometimes I think we need to hear that life is messy for other people to. That there are days, even for those of us who believe in an ever-present Father who never fails us, we feel quite lonely…like we’d much prefer curling up in a ball in a cave & not having to face the world until we choose to. Sometimes our heart needs to know that hope feels as distant for someone else as it does for us. That even those who seem to have it all together have seasons where emotions are thread bare.

And maybe, on some level, I need to remind myself of all of those things too and writing them down roots them a little deeper into my stubborn doubtful heart. 

So, if you’re in a place like I am today, take heart, you’re not alone. And tomorrow, if it comes, is a new day. Because while there may be a lot that I don’t know right now, that much I do – that each day is a new one, a small chance to start from scratch.  

Reconditioning

I don’t know about you, but from little on I’ve been conditioned to avoid pain…of all sorts. Don’t jump off that rock, you’ll hurt yourself. Don’t run, you’ll fall. Don’t tell someone how you feel about them, they’ll reject you. Don’t make that risky career move, you’ll fail & be poor. Do anything you can to avoid pain. 

But the rule of life is we can’t completely avoid pain…at least not forever. The nature of the muscle disease I’ve been blessed with is chronic physical pain. Some days the pain is significantly more intense than others, but it’s almost always there. The past several weeks have been an intensely painful season. And while there’s not much I can do about it, one thing I can do is go to the gym. I know that if I hop on the treadmill for even 30 minutes I will feel better the next day because the pain needs to be forced out by movement.

But, the current pain, which makes me cringe just walking up to the counter at Starbucks, keeps me from actually going to the gym. Because I know that the actual workout itself will hurt, it will be significantly more painful than sitting still. It doesn’t matter that tomorrow I’ll feel better, I know the pain is going to get worse before it gets better and so I choose to stick with the hardly bearable, yet bearable, pain of sitting still. 

As I was complaining to God about this situation the other day, it hit me how often I do that very same thing with the pain of life. I think that’s true for many of us. We’ll tell you we’re unhappy, miserable, etc. And we know that if we’d do the hard work to get through the pain we’d be happier on the other side. But we also now it will hurt more before it hurts less & we’re not sure our hearts & souls can take it. So, we settle for the hardly bearable, yet bearable, pain of sitting still.

I wonder how our lives might look different if we could recondition ourselves to run headfirst into pain rather than avoid it. If we actually made decisions that put us in the line of pain’s fire knowing we’d get hit but that at some point we’d find ourselves sweetly exhausted on the road to recovery.

How would your life look different if you put yourself through a little reconditioning?

Throwback Sundays…Scabs or Scars?

Do you ever have a conversation with a friend & walk away feeling like a year of your life has just flashed before your eyes? First in rewind & then in fast forward?

Those moments leave me trying to wrap my mind around all of it, but more than that they leave my heart completely overwhelmed with gratitude. Because most of the time, God uses those conversations to help me clearly see what He has been up to in my life. He uses a friend’s encouragement to make me fully aware of the healing & growth He has been orchestrating in my life; to help me realize that He has turned scabs into scars.

I’ve had several conversations like that over the past couple of weeks, and it’s got me reflecting on this post from last July. I wanted healing, not just relief, & I think I’ve found it.