Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Processing Pain

I have always been an external processor.  I need things to come out of my heart and my mind in order to think and feel deeply about them.  This past week has been the absolute worst of my life.  It seems impossible and like I must be watching these events unfold in someone else's life - this can't possibly be my story.  But it is.  We will lay our sweet Levi to rest today and to think about it fills me with anguish that is indescribable.  I have so many questions, ones that I know will likely remain unanswered until I am united with my babies and our Creator - I have a feeling that the answers won't matter so much at that point.

I have been spending a lot of time in the Psalms and in Job because God's word promises that it will not return void but will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it and I need something to be successful right now (Isaiah 55:11).  Psalm 56 says "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can mere man do to me? (vs 3-4).  It goes on to say "You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle.  Are they not in Your book...This I know, that God is for me." (Psalm 56: 8-9).  When I think about that, I think that my bottle must be overflowing, there can't possibly be room for more tears.  I want it to be such that when your bottle has collected all the tears it can hold, you are safe - you can no longer experience great tragedy.  But, I look at the world - at the suffering of those in Haiti, the refugee crisis, and the loss of those close to me and I know that this isn't the case.  Learning to live with sorrow and with loss is part of our human experience because we are fallen and this is not Heaven.

I still feel somewhat frozen in this place.  I am aware that there is a long road ahead that leads to healing; it is full of valleys, some deep, dark caves, impossible hills, and when I look at this road it seems like a journey that I could never survive.  I can't stay here though, I know I must start walking and it will hurt like hell... there are no shortcuts to healing.  As I read the book of Job, a man well acquainted with suffering I am struck by his responses.  He is thought of as a holy man who did not sin and refused to curse God, even when God allowed Satan to afflict him.  "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?  In all of this Job did not sin with his lips.  Job 2:10"  When Job's friends came to visit him after his children had been killed and after he was stricken with illness, they did not recognize him.  I wonder even without the physical ailments if he would be recognizable.  I feel so unlike myself right now, a little hard to recognize, because that is what great pain does to you.  Job did not sin and did not curse God, yet he carried tremendous pain that altered him to his core.  I don't know what it looks like to worship in the midst of great pain.  I feel like it should look like some kind of peaceful surrender and acceptance, but that is certainly not the state of my heart.  Maybe my act of worship is just to show up, and keep showing up, being present with God in the midst of pain, questions, anger, confusion. 

Job certainly wasn't afraid to express his pain.  "For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.  I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes. Job 3:25-26"  "Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.  Job 7:11"  I have learned through my journey of suffering that people will do just about anything to avoid suffering and to watch someone else suffer is painful.  We want it to end, we want to make it better, we want everything to be okay.  But, the truth is - it isn't okay and it will never be okay.  If we are going to experience healing, we have to stop trying to escape pain and we have to be present by being true to the moment and experiencing our feelings as they come and not trying to escape.  For me, that means a battle to stay present, to be wounded, but to stay present with the pain and trust that Jesus will meet me there.  He is well acquainted with suffering and grief.  Our Father knows what it is like to lose a child.  So, I will be brave today and I am so grateful for those friends and family members who are choosing to be brave with me - to sit in the darkness with me, to be present in the pain and not try to make it better.  Thank you all for your prayers and expressions of love for our family, we have felt Jesus carry us and it means so much that Levi's life and his death - they carry an eternal significance.   

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