Thursday, June 15, 2006

Something Light and Something Heavy

What better way to show you the conflicting (or maybe more complimenting) part of my nature than to offer two different types of posts, one light and fluffy that leaves you smiling and the other deep and heavy that makes you think.


Yesterday I embarked on an adventure with my “Old Lady Friends”. I use this term loosely because they really aren’t old but in comparison to me and the average age of most of my compatriots they are older, and married, and have kids, some in college, therefore they are called the “Old Lady Friends” with great love and laughter. Well we all piled into one car and headed for lunch and some shopping. After much laughter and absolute craziness we were scouting out desert and I suggest a place called Javalato, where they serve coffee (java) and gelato (lato). As we walk in facing the gelato display case with about 20 perfectly formed gelato tubs, one of the ladies, Angel (her alias to protect her identity), says rather loudly “What is that? Pudding?”. The face on the teenage boy behind the counter was PRICELESS. We laughed, he snickered, and we all bought our pud . . . gelato. I love my “Old Lady Friends”.


A while back I went to dinner with a few friends. We were doing what girls do best and sharing with each other what was going on in our lives at the time. I shared some struggles I was dealing with and was honest about the pain that I was feeling. My friend then shared some of her struggles and I remember remarking that my issues were nothing in comparison to hers. And then she said the most encouraging thing to me. She looked me straight in the eyes and said with complete compassion “Pain is pain.”

In that moment she offered me what I had been wanting, the freedom to hurt over what I was going through. The freedom to not have to explain my pain, or qualify it, or even compare it to someone else, but to be able to say I was hurting and that was enough. I was allowed to hurt for whatever reason. I was free to say that this was difficult for me and hard and that was all that mattered.

After thinking about this for a while I realize that often when we are hurting that is really all we want. We just want someone to say it is ok for us to hurt; it is ok for us to be in pain, and that while they might not understand the situation they understand that for us, in that moment, it is hard and we are hurting.

So often we don’t know how to help someone in pain. Do we offer an ear; do we point out how it could be worse so they get perspective; do we pull out our trusty list of responses and offer the great hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that all trials produce strength; do we try to logically fix their problem? None of these are bad or wrong. I’ve done all of these in an effort to help. But do we ever let someone just mourn what is a difficult time for them? Do we acknowledge that they are in pain and it is often times unbearable? Do we give them the freedom to hurt and to cry and to say that no matter what else comes my way in life, right here, right now, this is the worst I have ever had it and it hurts so much that I don’t know how to deal with it? Do we give them the freedom to have their own pain, separate from any that we have known?

Even in the Christian community this is a tough area. We want to give encouragement, we want to offer hope, we want to print out a list of uplifting verses to show them they “this too shall pass” (and it will eventually, thankfully). But is there a moment when the verses that champion perseverance and hope, the expectedness of trials, and the good fruits of tribulations fall upon ears that aren’t ready to hear? Are we in such a hurry to diagnose and fix a problem, or at least offer a reason for it, that we forget the human being before us that is hurting? Are we so quick to offer spiritual healing that we forget the healing of a hug, the comfort of a silent listener, and the compassion of someone to cry with you?

I’m not saying to forgo a response that is based on God’s Word. Not at all. I find myself turning to God in every hurt; it is the only place I can often turn. But I’ve never been met by God with a game plan in the midst of my tears. I’ve never been shamed because I feel pain for something that is nothing in comparison to what others are going through. If anything I have been met by a God that knows my heart and how it is breaking at the moment. I am met by a God that wept.

The shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” We don’t get a peak inside Christ’s heart at that moment, but we do see His response to what He was experiencing. His friend Lazarus was sick and Mary and Martha have called on Christ to come quickly. Jesus, in His own wisdom, decided to wait and came only after Lazarus died. He arrives to a mournful place as they have already laid Lazarus in the tomb. Both Martha and Mary approach Christ and lament about the death of their brother, the inability of Christ to be there to heal him, and they both express faith that Christ is Lord. And so in the midst of this lesson on faith and power over death, I find not just an Almighty Lord but a compassionate Christ who recognizes that pain is true for these women.

John 11: 32- 35
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied.
Jesus wept.

Now many people have spoken of why Christ wept. I’m focusing on the fact that He did. Christ, the Lord, who would soon raise Lazarus from the dead and give eternal life to all, wept. He knew what was to come, He knew that this too shall pass and that joy abundant would soon fill the place, and yet He wept.

Often times I feel like Mary, throwing myself at the feet of Christ, pouring my pain and heart out to Him, lost in the brokenness of my heart, in the unknown of my limited humanity, hurting, crying, broken. And instead of a God who answers with “Katie, why are you crying? Why do you have such little faith? I am the Lord, I have it under control.” (and He has every right to say this to me, because it is all true), instead I am met by a Lord that weeps alongside me. He sees my heart, He knows my pain, and He meets me right there in the midst of all that despair and shows me through His tears that I am not alone, I am free to hurt, He knows the pain is real, He meets me in my tears.

The freedom to hurt is the freedom to be human. It is the freedom to let God come in and hurt alongside us, to comfort us, and to begin to heal us. Pain is pain, and Christ has wept alongside Mary and Martha and He has wept alongside me.


Anonymous jes said...

I love your friend's response: pain is pain. And she so wisely shared that with you.

I hate that we hurt, but I love that we also know joy. And I'm convinced that we wouldn't truly have the latter without first knowing the former.

6/15/2006 1:32 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Hm. Never thought about this before... I think as a guy, I forget to let my friends mourn. I am so wired on trying to fix things... but I try not too...

Tears are okay... It is okay to feel pain. And it is alright that there is not a quick fix.

6/15/2006 4:12 PM  
Blogger steve said...

I am all about the crying and getting it out when you need to. I also feel like it is ok to allow yourself to stay in the pain and mourn/grieve/whatever... it is a strong emotion and I will take a strong heartfelt emotion over no emotion any day of the week

6/15/2006 5:01 PM  
Blogger Deals On Wheels said...

That was a beautiful post, Katie.

(Look! A short response by Deals! Never thought that THAT was possible. Moved! Moved, I was. Moved to the point of speechlessness (well, almost speechless anyway). Something I really needed to hear/read right now. “Pain is Pain” – how simple, how complex. Great story!)

6/15/2006 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Jayleigh said...

"compassion of someone to cry with you"

Like Eddo wrote about last week or so, it validates people when you can just LISTEN and be there for them without having your own agenda or trying to come up with a fix or answers.

**hugs** for you... whatever has you feeling pain, I pray the Lord preserves you through it. God bless you, dear lady.

6/15/2006 10:12 PM  
Blogger Dee said...

Katie, I've been doing a little reading and what I thought was....well it seems that it wasn't. I don't want to explain that on blogger, so I'll just say that I hope you aren't hurting because of....well, I can't really say...but I pray God leads you where He wants you. I know that sounds so crazy, but I just had this thought in my head as I read through some blogs...I'll just say that I'll keep you in my prayers. I'm not crazy, really I'm not, and I could be totally wrong. I know you are thinking, "who is this nut?" but the Lord has laid you on my heart for a reason, I just am not sure what the reason is, but He does.
Dee Dee Harker

6/15/2006 10:48 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I LOVED this post: and even though I've thrown some verses your way when you've been down (I can be so good for that sometimes!), I'm happy just being an ear and letting you be sad - just tell me to shut up! hehehehe

No, but really: I COMPLETELY understand. Wonderful post, Katie :)

6/16/2006 9:36 AM  
Blogger Eddo said...

KT, you always do a great job of letting us see your heart - even when it is hurting.

I think pain is sometimes something we really need to be allowed to go through.

I am reminded of that song, "I'll never leave, I'll never stray, my love for you will never change, please don't make me smile, I just wanna be mad for a while..." Sometimes we just need to be left alone. We know we are going to get through it, we want you to know we are going through it, but we don't want you to fix it.

Emotions aren't always easy things to explain and hopefully whatever pain you are going through now will subside soon.

6/16/2006 11:42 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Thanks everyone for the encouragement . . . . . this post came from some thinking and memories of things gone by, not a specific thing I'm struggling with at the moment, if anything this post was more for me to remember in the future that it is ok to hurt and when friends are hurting i need to give them the freedom to be in pain

so other than having no clue what I'm doing for my future (ahahaha, I'm almost beginning to feel comfortable in having everything unknown) I'm good, deep thinking as always, but good

6/16/2006 11:50 AM  
Blogger Tim Rice said...

Great post. How true that pain is pain. Comparisons really aren't relevant here.

6/18/2006 3:08 PM  

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