There are periods in life when hard doesn't begin to describe the difficulty of our circumstances, when, try as we might, we can't see much good in the midst of chaos and pain and struggle. I'm in one of those stretches now, but I am grateful to be reminded that even when I'm deep in life's swamp and looking through the vail of impossibly hard stuff, there is purpose in it. I can't see it yet, but I know it's there, just around that blind corner where nothing has come into view. Yet.
Let's be real. Going through our most painful times pushes us to our very limits. Our human survival mechanism makes us want to run from it or dull it. And that impulse makes me want to share something that strikes me as critically important in assessing and dealing with heart wrenching pain. I wish these were my wise words, but they belong instead to Henri J.M. Nouwen, who wrote The Inner Voice of Love. My friend, Jennifer, gave me that book, saying it was powerful, knowing I could use it. Boy, was she right, even from the first page, which is about emotional pain and ends this way:
"There are two extremes to avoid: being completely absorbed in your pain and being distracted by so many things that you stay far away from the wound you want to heal." My eyes hung on those last words:
The wound you want to heal.
The struggle I'm having now, and the work I'm doing because of it, focusses on healing old wounds. We all have them. Every single one of us. I didn't realize the impact of unresolved hurt until I started peeling back my layers and going deep. That's where the wounds live and that's where the healing happens. I believe that's where the purpose in the pain also resides. I'm learning. Slowly. Sometimes begrudgingly. Sometimes tearfully. But I'm learning. And isn't that the point of the journey?
We can't run, Underdogs. And we can't wallow. Not if we want to seize this opportunity to learn and to grow. In order to do that and find purpose in the pain, we need to walk where the wounds and the pain reside, deep within us. We need to pause in it, feel it and find new ways out of it. Prayer and meditation have been amazing guides for me as I do that. Maybe they are for you, too. And we have to take care of ourselves along the way, giving ourselves the latitude to turn from the pain and disconnect from it for a while and then return to face it. We need to breathe and stand before a mirror, looking into our own souls and saying, "It's okay, my sweetheart. I love you. You are going to get through this. God made you and your are good. You are His. And you are not alone in this."
If we avoid running or wallowing, and we walk through the pain and the hard stuff head on, we will find purpose. If you're already there on the other side, shout back words of encouragement. The rest of us who are still in the swamp sure could use them.
Remember: You have you and you are strong. You have God and He is stronger. And God has you through it all. And me, too.
Keep walking, Underdogs! Something deep inside of me tells me it's going to be well worth it.
Sending you deep, soulful love and peace....