The past few weeks, an outsider looking into my world may think "life is good". Especially, if you saw my life through the lens of Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. The truth is that life is good and full. My family is healthy and I have a roof over my head. So part of me says, "James, you should be grateful".
But life is painful. The odd thing is there is no current specific thing making life so painful. So why does it hurt so much when I slow down enough to pay attention to my heart? I am beginning to realize that I look for other things, events, and people to help ease my pain. This pain is heavy and it is real. It is so uncomfortable at times that I find myself wanting to do anything to get out of it. If you are like me, there is a Sunday School type answer whispering in my head, "Well, just go to God and He will take away your pain".
To be very honest, I do not like this one bit. I want out of the pain but to acknowledge that I am powerless to it is so very hard. This may sound obvious but when I'm in the midst of the pain, it is really hard to let go. Because to let go means that I have to acknowledge that I am powerless. I do not like giving up control.
The hope is that there is relief from our pain. And I keep coming back to the fact that the only real relief is God and the relationships we have with Him and others. I was given some good news when I read that Jesus is all about healing. I saw this in Richard Rohr's book "Breathing Under Water". Rohr states, "healing was about all that he did...Jesus was concerned about it now, and about its healing now". So why do I not get healing from my pain? In the end, I know that God does not work that way, meaning on my time table. If he did...then I guess I would be "godlike" since I would be dictating to him the plans, the timing of events, and the healing that needed to unfold.
I also know that pain is used to help teach us life lessons. This is another truth I really do not like. But would I trade it? There is great song by The Lumineers that you may have heard called "Stubborn Love". There are two lines in the song that I love:
It's better to feel pain, than nothing at all
The opposite of love is indifference
This gets me thinking about times I have risked it and been hurt along the way and times I held back. Just think of love, it is such a risk to put your heart out there with the real chance you can be rejected...but isn't it better like the song says "to feel pain, than nothing at all".
I am reminded of my days growing up wakeboarding on the lake. Back in the day, my brothers and I would try new tricks to up the ante and have fun. I can remember days sitting in the boat debating whether I would try some new trick. The riskiest trick we ever tried was the "air raley" which kind of looks like your are flying in the air like superman with the board over your head. The risk is that if you did not land it you would do a belly flop on the lake. This meant a lot of pain especially if you were going over 20 mph. I remember the desire to land it but being so scared of the pain it could bring. The rule was if you didn't go "all out" you were sure to risk not making the jump. It was not a jump for the faint of heart. You may be wondering, "Why would someone subject themselves to pain like this"? There was something that pulled us to try and go all out for the sheer fun of it. There were a few times where I choose not to try a trick and felt a loss like I missed out by playing it safe. And when we landed it, the whole boat would erupt with cheers and fist bumps.
I say all this because when I think back on this story I have a lot of nostalgia around those days on the lake. It felt as if time stood still. I believe it also showed me a picture of how I was made...made to be alive, made to have heart, and made to feel...to feel the glad and sad.
There is a great video that shows a younger brother looking up to his older brother playing baseball. It is a picture of holding glad and sad (i.e. pain) together. This younger brother wants to be just like his brother and mimics everything he did even when he saw his brother lose. Coincidentally, the song "Stubborn Love" plays in the background. See below.