WHAT IF: you heard a “knock” at your door and you opened it to find a big bundle of painful moments,grief, loss? Would you open it and welcome it into your house? Would you invite it in for coffee, let it put it’s feet on your coffee table and stretch out on your sectional?
Have you ever thought about the fact that there are so many people groups in the world– so many ethnicities, cultures, races and nations and one thing that we all have in common is a fear of feeling pain? We hate pain. We run when we think of it. I know my own walk through a painful past, painful loss, and extreme pain with our battle with fertility. I’ve walked through so many forms of pain in the last few years. It has taken me years to realize that my “door bell” was ringing and I knew that what stood on the other side was extremely painful. Instead of opening the door and inviting the pain in to “stay a while”, I so often just ignored the ringing. But pain can be relentless and so can our escape methods. We have become REALLY good at dodging pain, friends.
Here in the United States, our culture works to relieve pain as soon as humanly possible. We hate to actually FEEL pain. Think about it…we have built a monstrosity of a pharmacological battle with overly-prescribed narcotics and opiates. We have the worst opiate epidemic going on right now than EVER before in history. And, on average, America spends over $19.9 BILLION dollars on liquor in ONE (yes, one) calendar year (thank you, Google, for that info). That is absolutely insane.
Keep thinking with me about this for a second. There is a mentality that if you just pour yourself another glass of wine it will wash away whatever pain or stress that has been incessantly knocking at your “door”. Does it bother anyone else that it i’s now acceptable for moms to joke about their excessive need for booze just to get through one day of caring for their kids?? Hmm…Soooo…What does this say about what we are teaching our children about ACTUALLY dealing with a difficult day?! And how often does our culture self-medicate with smoking whatever plant brings some amount of “peace” to our pain?
And think about our constant need for technology. I recently have found myself buried in my phone from sun-up to sun-down— watching Facebook, watching Insta…checking a million e-mails. Really?! What are we scrolling through so much for–over & over again?? What do we think is going to happen? And do we really post our TRUE and realest selves on social media? Or are we living in a fantasy of what we wish we were? By utilizing my phone so much, I knew I just wanted an escape and I wanted to distract myself from that nagging painful *knock* at my “door”.
We all have our ways of tuning out that knock…
Guess what I have found? That pain standing on the outside of your “door”? It is not going away simply because you do not answer the door. It is not anything like the annoying sales person that comes knocking at the front door at 6:00pm and leaves shortly after you ignore him for a minute or two.
Writing from my heart and from experience here guys–
Most recently Josh and I have walked through the pain and heartbreak of infertility. But, we also know the pain of grief and saying “good-bye”, the pain of watching people we love make destructive choices and tear their entire lives apart, the pain of dysfunction that was never dealt with from our childhood wreaking havoc as we approach our 30’s, the pain of our hearts’ greatest desires not met yet. For the entirety of our marriage, we have marched on with broken hearts through days and days of pain and searing loss. For years, I sprinted as far away as I could as soon as I heard the “footsteps” of pain making its way up to my “door”. No way was I letting it in! I certainly was not going to sit and face it. I could never look it in the eye– my heart was full of fear.
And I got to the point when my pain beat my “door” down:
After the doctor said that we were never going to have children of our own or on our own, I literally had absolutely no strength remaining to keep the “door” closed. The pain came barreling in like a flood. Without asking, it invaded every part of me– my heart, my mind, my bones. I couldn’t tell you how I functioned after that day, because I felt like a zombie. I tried so hard to ignore it and I tried so hard to push it out, but there was no shoving this pain back out the door and locking it out. I had to deal. I had to face it. I had no choice. I found myself talking to the pain as if it was sitting in front of me. I acknowledged it, finally came to a place of welcoming it and spelled out SHARP boundaries that the pain had to go by:
It could not steal my joy and it could not steal my peace.
Shortly afterward, I realized that my pain had some majorly deep roots. In all this crap, there were roots that had the word “disappointment” written all over them. Each time I let myself feel comfortable in the same “room” with my pain, it became easier and easier to lift out the roots of disappointment and throw them away. I stripped myself of distraction, of self medicating, of trying to numb myself and I forced myself to feel. I survived and it was absolutely beautiful. Each time I gained courage and strength, each time I felt like a part of my wounded heart was healing. We’ve sought counsel, confided in friends, and our support community lifts us up on their prayers so often. Most importantly, I’ve learned to keep the “door” open. I have learned that pain that I feel does not define or control me. It does, however, help me to grow stronger in faith and plant deeper roots of PEACE when I face the pain and work THROUGH it instead of ignoring it.
I’ve written about the pain that infertility brings before. It’s layers and layers of hurt from the negative lab reports from a fertility specialist, to the disappointment. From negative pregnancy tests over and over again to the hurt of a “not this time” or “it is not ever likely to happen”.
The pain continues to be real.
Our journey has had so many unexpected turns. We’ve gone through a looong season of “no’s” and a season of “negatives” and we have finally reached a place of surrender. Whatever happens from here, happens, painful or not. We welcome it because we know that our pain is a catalyst that sets us ablaze with courage and hope.
Speaking of hope, if I haven’t lost you yet (kudos if you are still reading), I had an HSG test this past week and the doctor found that every part of my body that is supposed to contribute to a healthy pregnancy is doing what it is supposed to do. He encouraged us; he held my hand and looked me in the eye and said, “Until I get worried, you are not allowed to be worried. Don’t jump this ship yet!” He showed me my test results and pointed out how perfect everything in my body looked. The positive news almost made my heart explode!! In the midst of this pain, we have something to celebrate!!
I encourage all of us to be brave, unlock our “doors”, and welcome in whatever pain is standing on the other side. The best news is, you get to give it boundaries. You can dictate what it is and isn’t allowed to touch. Think about this for a moment: With your pain sitting in front of you, you can essentially do whatever you want with it. You can work through it, or tell it that it can’t stay. You can give it to Jesus (1 Peter 5:7) or you can even cuss it out if you want to! You do not have to lose your peace and you deserve to face your pain and grow from the things that you’ve gone through. Let the pain you feel be what gives you bigger wings to soar in freedom.
Answer that door!! Make your pain your welcomed guest !! Freedom awaits, friends!