Last night, a group of us had the privilege of watching a short video about pain and lament produced by one of the women at our church. The purpose, she said, was to help us know how to relate to others as they lament various sorrows in life, and to help us know how to share our own story.
That struck a chord. Pain and lament is a very personal experience. So I’m sure I’m not the first to admit that I have a hard time sharing the spotlight of pain. It’s mine, I’m the one feeling this emotional hurt so deep that I can actually feel twinges of physical pain. Why should I be made to compare my pain with what I see others experiencing?
This is a dark place. On a good day, I’d like to say I am an empathetic person. But pain has a way of twisting even our best intentions. Last week, as the country and my friends reeled from the less-than-desired outcome of a very stress-filled election, I found myself under this dim cloud. How was I supposed to find the strength to stand under the weight of one more troubling experience? Does this make my pain less important?
I really wanted to pray, reflect, and write, but I just kept circling around this emotional conundrum without any peace. It took a few days, but I eventually remembered a passage from Lysa TerKeurst’s Uninvited. I am so glad God led be to begin this journey with that book, long before weeks like this. With a sane mind, I read truth, circled it, and marked it with little stars. A pillar of remembrance. This is what Lysa shared:
“Even as the closed doors and rejections seem more prevalent than the new opportunities you’d like to see, even as you’re seeking to readjust your thinking, remember that there is abundant need in this world for your contributions to the kingdom . . . your thoughts and words and artistic expressions . . . your exact brand of beautiful.”
Pain and lament is a very personal experience. But it is also a very lonely task. We can begin to climb out of the cavernous hole sorrow has dug when we remember that we all, on some level, desire to be known and understood; loved and comforted. Hearing the stories of five different people’s lamentation in that video, I was reminded that my struggles and fears are indeed woven together in the world’s brokenness, but they are also uniquely mine. Further still, God’s presence in my pain is not a cookie-cutter response, but an intimate and relevant manifestation of grace.
This morning as I was scrolling through Instagram, a graphic from John Piper’s Desiring God took this truth and grabbed my heart:
|Image from Instagram, Desiring God|
[Plug: If you aren't already following Desiring God's website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, I highly recommend them. You won't be sorry.]
It is only through that perspective that I know the sharing of my pain serves a greater purpose. As I read articles, books, and Bible-inspired graphics on social media, a simple phrase like this will jump from the page. “That must have been written just for me!” I think, and yet I know that I am just one of many, thirsting for encouragement and instruction. I don’t want to forget these truths, so I have a running list. It is pages and pages long, but these links and quotes are not just an archive of resources, they are pillars of remembrance. I can look back and see the instances of God’s faithfulness when He provided kernels of truth, at just the right time. That, with everything else, is an important part of my story.