Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Lesson in the Pain

We have all been told, from the moment we were able to understand, that everything happens for a reason.  Next we are told that whatever doesn't kill us will only make us stronger.  Then, we are schooled in the fine art of learning from what has wronged/pained us.  Sadly, it is hard to see past the hurt while it is happening.  It is hard to see any perspective other than the one that is your own reality, because let's face it, when it hurts there are no other sides, just the one facing you.  It is the proverbial elephant in the room. 

There are different perspectives, rather other people's points of view, that you can get.  You can ask a random person, a friend that has the same core beliefs you do, a friend that doesn't, an acquaintance, or your own troubled self.  With each of these you are going to hear the right things and the wrong things; the things you need to hear and those things that are so wrong you wish to crawl in a hole and hide from that person.  In all of that, knowing who is right is just as challenging as the reason for the pain.  So, do you ask for advice or do you keep it all bottled in?  Do you let go, do you hold on and fight, or do you take a passive stance and see where it will all fall?

That's it!  Each one is easy and each one is hard.  When do you throw in the towel?  When you are completely depleted of all you are or before that?  That's the thing with pain, you have to know your threshold - what you are willing to sacrifice, because in the end there is always a sacrifice.  It is either a piece of you, your spirit, or the thing causing the pain.  Sacrifice is there in all situations.  How you emerge from that determines the lesson that is learned. 

For instance, an Olympic runner doesn't get there just by sheer luck.  No, they have to sacrifice time, energy, the temptations of bad food, etc.  But they learn that to win the race they have to fight the good fight and tarry on.  Then there are the lessons that aren't learned until some time later; those notorious what-ifs.  It is those terrible little what-ifs that destroy us.  Life isn't to be lived in the what-ifs.  The what-ifs keep you bound to your past and neglect the promise of your future.  What-ifs are the devil's playground.  He thrives there, he destroys people there, he ruins lives/relationships/families there.

All this brings me to this point.  Life has pain.  It doesn't matter who you are, or what other's think of you and your situation, we.all.have.pain.  No one coasts through life, no matter how much they want you to believe they do.  I guess the lesson here is that the grass is NEVER greener on the other side.  You will sacrifice something to obtain it. 

So as I sit here and regale myself to fight the good fight, because this pain is something worth fighting for, I rest firmly in the arms of my Creator and the sound advice of a great friend.  After all, we were never promised a pain free life, but man, I sure am excited to get past it and onto that lesson!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Happiness That Follows

Today I had the pleasure of teaching our adult Sunday School class.  I have to admit I was planning on doing something completely prosaic like, "Trusting God when you don't want to," or "Trusting God in the face of adversity," or...OK, you get the point.  It isn't so much that these aren't great topics, because in all actuality they are, and for those of us who wept Tuesday this was more in tuned to that reasoning.  BUT, in all of my ever increasing lack of time I failed to put something together.  Understandably so, it is most impossible to wing 50 minutes on a title alone...there must be substance!  SO, what did I do?

I put in a video.  The DVD set is on the 12 best small group studies of all time.  I'm not really sure who made that decision, which panel or board, or what not, but all I have to say is "know your audience!"  It worked though - this video we watched.  It was titled, "When I don't desire God."  Yeah, that's me.  It isn't that I set out to just not want him, its that I get so busy I forget about him.  There is a huge difference, the first one is a conscious decision to not chose him, the other is letting it slip your mind.  That is what I fall into.  I have found though, that when the busyness takes over he has a way of finding you.  Its in those small things like, a beautiful sunrise, a smile from your children, a random act of kindness, a happy chain of events, but also in those moments when life falls apart, when everything you've based yourself on comes crashing down at your feet, there, too, you find him.

And that leads me back to the lesson today.  The video, which was a bit long winded and the guy a bit academic, seriously his vocabulary was in the stratosphere, but the message was a simple one and one that had me thinking hard.  Really, hard.  However, without a teacher's guide I was stuck with winging it.  This is what I asked the class after the video:

What makes you happy?  Truly, happy?  A response from a lady was, "books, because I love to read."  So I asked, "if you were to have all your books taken away, your ability to see the written word, and your rights to read, would you still be happy?"  That's the just of it.  Would we still be happy?  It shouldn't be that we are happy when we have amassed all these earthly things, or great prestige, or rank, honor, personal glory, but that we should be truly, unabashedly happy in the lack of these things.  Why?  Because our joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

God created us for his glory.  Not so we could live in a certain zip code, drive certain cars, wear certain labels, hold certain jobs, but that we could love him and this life and be happy when it comes down to just that.  I'm not going to lie to you, I struggle here, where these thoughts intersect.  I'm human, I want my cake and to eat it too.  But to live in that mindset day after day is to miss the point.  Now, I'm not saying I'm anxiously awaiting a "Job moment" but in the past couple of weeks when the bottom has found its way to the top, so to speak, in my life, this is where I'm left.  Sitting, waiting, hoping, trusting...happy.

I'm not throwing a party and hanging up banners and streamers, I'm loving the one person who gave me life, who formed me in my mother's womb, (Psalm 139:13-16) who chose me, who knew me before I came to be, who hand selected me to be given to the people I was given to - my Lord and Savior.  I'm happy because I have him, and it is in having him that allows for the happiness that follows.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Trusting God

This week started out like any other; Monday following Sunday.  We had a busy weekend working on the house.  That's the thing about homes, there is always more work than time.  I have been super excited because my hubby and I finally got a bedroom suite, it has only taken 11+ years.  While he was at work the girls and I spent the weekend cleaning, building, organizing, and cleaning some more.  I was so excited to see the finished product, hoping the feeling was shared.

That's the end of the beauty of the week, right before it had a chance to get started.  I suppose I shouldn't say that, Monday and Tuesday weren't half bad.  However, Wednesday the bottom fell out.  It was, I have to say, the worst day of my life.  That's the thing about life, you never know what it will throw your way.  Sometimes the surprises are beautiful and welcomed warmly, like the joy of becoming a parent, but there are times when the surprises rip the very core of your being to pieces.  That feeling hurts.  It breaks you in a way you never thought possible. 

It causes despair to set in.  I causes a sorrow so intense, one felt so deep, you don't know if you can even place one foot in front of the other to take the steps necessary to begin life again.  Because that is what it is- it is beginning it again.  That's what happens when you're a grown-up.  Life moves along in a sing-sing way and you are comfortable and happy and living a dream, then WHAM! you get to experience the pain of life.  You get to put your big girl pants on and face the next day.

But before you do that, you look in the mirror and search your heart.  There you realize you aren't alone, you are never alone.  GOD IS THERE.  He feels your pain.  He knew that moment your heart stopped and you were reduced to nothing but the aching thud in your chest as the only feeling you had.  He was there waiting, waiting for you to see He was there.  That's where I found Him -exactly where I left Him.  He hadn't left, I'd placed Him aside in my comfort.  He was always there.  He's here now.

And that is where I am.  I'm trusting God.  I'm praying constantly for this hurt to go.  I'm praying for the return of the comfort.  I'm praying for God to be there when it comes back.  It will come back - I TRUST God.  He always answers the prayers that are in His will.  God is faithful to me even when I'm not in return.  That's the power that comes from Him, it manifests in the trust, the trust that comes from faith.  He's holding me, He's hearing the pain in the words both spoken and the ones I don't know how to speak.  He knowsI'm not alone.

This will pass and when it does, strength will be in its place.  He's helping me get stronger.  He's showing me the way.  I'm curled up in His lap resting my head on His shoulder and crying, sometimes softly sometimes not.  But He's comforting me, He's loving me, He won't leave me.

HE.  WON'T.  LEAVE.  ME.

Trust God.