Crying. So much crying. Doors swing open, and mom or dad hustle towards the sound.
The crying intensifies – ah, instantly a parent knows – it’s pain.
Ok. Start troubleshooting- Next question…
“Where is the pain?”
Pointing. A lot of pointing. Sometimes words are too much.
“What does it feel like?”
“Is it sharp?… like a knife” “Does it ache, like a headache?”
We start to speak- out of our own fear, nervousness or to calm them so they can speak… “Breathe baby.” “Just breathe, it’s all going to be ok.”
And there we are, holding their little, sometimes big and growing bodies in our arms, encompassing all of them. Feeling their pain as though it is our own. The gatekeepers, the boo-boo healers, completely incapable of removing the pain. Only time, the body, or methods of healing can do that. We in that moment- are weak. Completely enraptured with our child, seeing only the pain and feeling it within our own skin.
We tell them always- “It will be ok”, and we mean it. We believe it will be. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, things will not be ok, the way they were five minutes before, ever again. So what do we do then?
I know a bit about pain. All kinds of pain. Enough that many times I wondered if I would make it to the next day. More than once- the darkness was so tangible I could have taken that one irreversible step. Pain. So many reasons and a world nearly filled with it.
Aches- it’s no wonder that the name for pain in the heart is a heart ache. The pain isn’t sharp- like a knife- or a splinter going into the skin. It’s more the feel of a splinter left in the skin for a day or so- when the body’s pulse can be felt in that spot intensely. The ache when you experience the loss of someone dear- or when your learn your child is ill in a way that a band aid can’t solve. When someone you love chooses to leave you- or when you make a decision to leave them. There are so many other reasons for this type of pain, but I think of this kind of hurt as- the silent tears rolling down your cheeks kind. You can survive, and you know it.
Agony- the kind of pain that makes so many quit. Literally and figuratively. Sometimes they quit their jobs, or marriages- other times, they quit on their kids, or families and worse, sometimes they quit life altogether. This kind of pain is the kind others most often don’t see. This kind brings the ugly cry. A really ugly cry. The reason? Agony can remove all hope.
It gives false truths- statements like, “This will never get better.” “There is no hope for you.” “No one loves you.” “You aren’t worth their love.” “You failed- and you will always fail.” “Your kids are better off without a mother (or father) like you.” “They didn’t want you anyway.” “You are nothing.”
And it keeps on and keeps on until there is only a shell of the man or woman standing where you once stood. Agony starts as Heart Ache- and grows like a weed- from the same good soil as Love. Why? Because your heart is full of good soil- why wouldn’t it be, it was made in the image of God.
When you are broken to the point of Agony- you need more than you. A self help book won’t really do the trick- because no matter how many times you tell yourself you are worth something- that you are made for more- you won’t hear it and believe it, and belief is where the root lies. There’s one book that can give you all you need, and others that use concepts from that one book that can certainly strengthen you at the core. The Bible.
You aren’t worthy because of who you are. You never could be- because that’s only part of the sentence. You are worthy because God is worthy- because through the cross a Perfect Man- Jesus- died in your place- for you- stuck in your sins and willingly bore the punishment of that sin. If you made that choice to follow Him, to commit your heart into the hands of the God who made you, through the way made by His son, Jesus- then you are more that worthy- because He swapped places with you- and me.
What kind of pain was it? It was bad. Agonizing. It lasted long enough for the folks on the ground around to start to wonder if He really was who He said He was. They had to start wondering if this man- was really enduring this pain because of a joke? Was he really crazy enough to tease that He was the King of Kings to the point of death? I doubt the few left at the end of His battle with life questioned who He was. His death was painful enough that you would never need to sacrifice your own life- because He already did that- so that you could live. He cried. He weeped- He did what we do when our hearts ache. Tears streaming down his cheeks- He decided you- YOU- were enough. You were worthy, You made it worth it. He decided that He loved you so much- that He would give up His perfect existence to be known as a laughingstock in not only His community, but the world. Even now- the ring of laughter will pierce the air as His beautiful name is uttered. He did it anyway. For You.
The best part- is unlike us- human in nature- we would run from the pain- the heart ache, the agony- and we would not willingly return to it- but He would. For You.
What can we do with that? Well, we can turn to Him. When we are at the point where the ache begins. When life has handed us lemons, and we are out of sugar- we ask Him for a neighbor who has a whole bag, and a friend who has a pitcher of water. We join together with others who believe for us what God does. Who stand with us. Who will hold our hands and ugly cry with us, and then pick us up by our boot straps and walk us out of the mud. That was always His plan. To do it together. He doesn’t often call us to “fix” ourselves alone. He instead says, “where two or more are gathered in My name, there I will be also”.
He is the support group leader- but you need the support group! You need people in your life who can say, “I walked that road”, “I felt that way”, “and I survived”, even better… “I grew from it.” “As a person. As a Mother, or as a Father. I am a better example to my children because I loved them from a place of barrenness.” “When I thought I had nothing left to give, He gave me courage for a new day, and renewed my love for my family, or my spouse. He carried me to the other side from brokeness to wholeness.”
I am here because my people keep helping me make lemonade. (P.S. This works even if you gave yourself the lemons… because sometimes the sourness in our life was man made.)
Be Blessed and make some lemonade.