Rushing the Pain Process

When was the last “bomb” that went off in your life?

Perhaps you have had a significant loss of some type that just stunned you and forever changed your world. Loss of a loved one, a job, health, freedom, etc.

Perhaps it was a while back or maybe you are in the midst of one right now. We are often taken completely by surprise. The aftermath is a mix of confusion, hurt, disappointment, fear, and more questions than answers!

I had one such bomb recently. My job is as a national clinical trainer, where I train medical and behavioral health staff on a variety of mental health topics. It has affords me the ability to travel around the country, create training on subjects I am passionate about, and do what I love most, public speaking. To boot, most of the time I get to do it in yoga-pants from the comfort of my home!

I've never had a job I loved so dearly and wanted to stay in for a long time. In a company of thousands, there are only ten of us. I popped into a team meeting one morning where my boss sadly informed us that the company was restructuring and half of our team would be laid off. This was was completely out-of-the-blue and in my fog, I vaguely remember asking, “What did you just say?!?”

The first thing that got through was the realization that I was safe. I quickly looked through the participant list to see who else was safe and deduced which of my friends had just lost their jobs. I started to cry so I put myself on mute. Despite leadership's adamant reassurances that these would be the only cuts, uncertainty still lingers for me. My safe haven would never be the same.

To say it was a life-altering bomb that went off in my life is an understatement.

And no matter how many times I bring to mind that God is in control, it still hurts and fear still manages to creep in even though it is unwelcome.

What we do when those unwelcome painful moments come is critical! Will we face the pain or circumvent it and leap over it?

We may try to force ourselves to believe something even when the reality is slapping us in the face and asking the tough questions. Questions that make us uncomfortable, because they may just call into question what God is doing or allowing right now.

God is big enough to handle that torrent of emotion, so let Him. He can take your questions and I promise He has answers!

We may seek out others to tell us what we need to do. And, if you find that rare gem that can sit with you in your pain and just "be" then that is a blessing. We were made for relationship!

But, if we are honest, most of us are uncomfortable in that deep emotional space with others, as we just want the person to feel better and move on. As well-meaning Christians, we are quick to hand out “truth” that we feel will bring comfort and fix the problem regardless if the person is ready for it. I have been guilty of that.

We do this with others and we do this with ourselves!

I don’t know about you, but as a Christian, I often feel the pressure to handle every situation correctly! To model certain attitudes or behaviors that exude dignity and grace in the midst of suffering. But I seem to fail at this time and time again and wonder what is wrong with me that I can’t seem to pull that off!

Perhaps you feel that pressure to?

We know the answers in Scripture, but they seem obscured by our fear and disappointment as we feverishly attempt to get a handle on it all. We feel this need to get over the pain, dust ourselves off, and move on when perhaps we are just not ready yet.

Hear me on this… God has NO problem sitting in the pain with you… for as long as it takes!!

Why is it we don’t give ourselves time?!? Let that question sink in for a moment.

We give ourselves spiritual platitudes, or deadlines, or limits, or a grade… but not time. The time to work through the complex mess that is before us right now.

God gives us time and He cares! (1 Peter 5:7)

Grief is a common emotion all of humanity knows. We see it weaved in the storylines of many Bible characters like Job, Naomi, Hannah, and David. The Psalms are filled with anguish and tough questions.

The story of Lazarus, in John 11, gives a picture of immense pain and loss experienced by his family and friends, including Jesus. When Jesus witnessed Mary and the other Jews mourning due to their pain, He wept.

One of the most astounding things in this story is that Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead, yet He still participated in the grief and pain of the situation. What a loving Savior!

He is a tender God. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that He understands us and has compassion and sympathy for us. We are encouraged in the next verse to draw near to Him in confident assurance that He will meet us in our need and help us.

So, take the time you need. God is not pushing you to move on. He is, however, along with you for the journey and He knows exactly how to guide you through this season.

Take the time you need to squeeze out every last tear. He puts them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8).

Take the time to voice your fears and know that He can bolster your courage (Isaiah 41:10).

Take the time you need to share your story with a trusted friend that does more listening than talking. Share it with the God who hears and is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

Take the time you need to ask the tough questions and work through your disappointment and anger. It’s natural to wonder how you are going to make it through this. He is the God who sees (Genesis 16:13).

God promises to never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31: 6, 8). You are not alone!

Take the time you need to face and feel the loss. God can keep you from drowning (Psalm 34:17).

God isn’t in a rush, so we don’t have to be. When we rush the process we are in danger of simply jumping over the pain, and not really dealing with it. That doesn’t help and it’s not asked of you.

Our merciful Father is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3).

It is when we need comfort, and avail ourselves of it, that we truly see how loving our God is in the midst of our pain.

Give yourself time, you have permission!

~ Heather

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Who made heaven and earth,

The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever.

Psalm 146:6