|It's Time to Move Past Pain|
I was praying one day and told the Lord, "Well, I've pretty much written about all I know to write about. Do You have any ideas of what I should write about?" I really wasn't expecting an answer, to be honest. I say a lot of things to God and He doesn't always clearly answer me. But on this day, He did. He said, "Write about pain." That wouldn't be my Number One choice, but after a few weeks, I started writing about pain and a few experiences that came to my mind.
When I say the word pain, what immediately comes to your mind?
Is there an event in your life that coincides with the word pain?
Pain can feel like it is cutting us to ribbons, even years after an event. On the outside, perhaps we look normal. But in the invisible realm, we are gushing out blood from our wounds.
No one can avoid pain.
Everyone experiences pain.
The experiences I'm sharing are really small potatoes compared to other people's memories of growing up with an alcoholic parent, or because of abuse, or divorce. I realize that. Those are much deeper hurts. I would never minimize those experiences by comparing them to mine. These are just meant as examples of painful situations many of us have experienced.
In the fourth grade, I can remember a girl coming up to me as I had my hand on the door to go outside for recess. We had spent many afternoons playing at each other's houses. I clearly remember her words, "My mom said I don't have to play with you at school." as she headed out the door. I remember stopping and thinking, "But why? We've played together all our lives. Why can't we play together at school?" Even now, I can remember and feel that pain. I didn't understand. My heart didn't know what to do with the hurt. I must have opened the door and went on outside. But I can still recall the pain I felt at hearing those words. A little seed was planted that said I was found wanting in some area and I didn't even know what area it was.
In the fifth grade, I was the new girl at a tiny school. I was painfully shy, but smiled and tried to be friendly.
A girl was passing out birthday invitations. She passed them out one by one as we all stood in line. When she got to me, she looked at me and said, "I'm not inviting you."
While I understood on some level as a fifth grader that it was because I was new and she didn't know me, it still hurt deeply. All the other girls were standing there admiring their invitations and I wasn't included.
Fast forward a few years later when our 9th grade class was voting for class officers. I attended a small school and had been a class officer each year. But that year was different. My name was called along with several others who were nominated. We were asked to stand out in the hallway while the class voted. When I came back in, I found out that I hadn't won that year. But I was even more surprised and hurt when a girl I considered to be a friend, leaned over to me and said, "I didn't vote for you." I was at a loss as to why she wanted me to know that. The remainder of that last year at that school was very hard. I felt like I didn't fit in anywhere.
Probably none of us escaped our school years unscathed.
I often felt like I was a disappointment as a kid. If I made the honor roll, I felt like I was okay and good. But I wasn't the prettiest, the smartest, the most popular, the most anything. When I looked in a mirror, I was always disappointed.
The hardest time of all for me during those years were the yearbook photo days. Maybe I could somehow persuade myself that I looked okay when I saw my reflection in the mirror each morning. But photos just don't lie.
I dreaded the day when the teacher passed out that envelope with our photos inside. Do you remember those big envelopes where your picture showed through the window of the envelope? I always had hope in my heart. Maybe this year, I would look better. Maybe I would have taken a good picture. Maybe I even looked a little pretty. But every year, my hopes were crushed. It seemed I looked worse every single year! My teeth stuck out, my eyebrows were bushy, and my hair was big, but not in an 80's good sort of way. If I tried to work on one area of myself, it literally seemed another unmanageable area made itself known....pimples, sciolosis...all I needed were glasses and braces, which somehow I managed to avoid.
I began to believe what I saw in those photos. I believed I was ugly.
Sometimes pain can lead to shame. For many years, I've had a sense of shame always being there, covering me, and speaking lies to me.
"They don't like you."
"You aren't pretty enough,"
"You never do anything right."
It can go on and on.
My husband often says this, "Guilt is feeling bad about something you've done, shame is feeling bad about what you are. It's an identity issue."
Pain and shame can define us and convince us of things that are not even true about ourselves. If you hear something long enough, you start to believe what you are hearing, even if it is coming from your own head.
My husband remembers a time when he was the new kid at school. He and his brother were wearing jeans and cowboy boots, while the other guys were wearing bell bottoms. He had been well liked and popular at his previous school, but now at the new school, he felt he had been dropped in the middle of a mine field.
One day, during lunch, his classmates were reaching over and helping themselves to tator tots off their friend's plate. When my husband casually decided to do the same, that student went into a rage, picked up his lunch tray loaded with food, and slammed it all over him. He was covered in lunch room food and left the room while all the students laughed. He felt totally humiliated. But that experience, along with some others during those awful years, left an imprint on him - that he wasn't acceptable as he was. He made a decision to do whatever it took to fit in. That decision would affect his life negatively for many years.
When I look in the mirror, I have to fight to see who I am now. I have to strain to not see the unattractive 7th grader staring back at me in the mirror.
Over the years, I've often thought I missed an important class in school. The class that teaches you how to walk, how to talk, how to do your hair and makeup, and what clothes to wear. It feels like a memo was sent out that I somehow missed!
I was helping with a GED class a few years ago with Teen Challenge students. While assisting a really sweet young man in his twenties, he suddenly became very emotional. Being back in a school environment suddenly caused him to recall how a teacher's words to him had made him feel stupid. Even though that had occurred years ago, working on his GED brought back all those memories of feeling that he wasn't bright enough or as smart as the other kids in his class. He was a grown man now, but that pain and those words were still a part of him. He was actually very bright, but the words of that teacher had convinced him otherwise.
This reminds me of something I read the other day about Thomas Edison.
Amazing, isn't it? He would grow up to be one of the most famous inventors of the century, but because of his different learning style (this article said that he was probably dyslexic), he was labeled "addled"(dumb) by a teacher.
Maybe there are words that were spoken to you that you have had a hard time getting past.
Has someone such as a teacher, told you that you were dumb or slow or stupid?
You're not. Maybe you have a different learning style, but you aren't stupid.
Has someone called you worthless? Maybe a parent said that in anger or a spouse or someone else close to your heart has said that to you.
That label isn't true either. You are extremely valuable. So much so, that Someone saw you, loved you, and was willing to lay down His life for you. You have great value to God. Jesus' love for you isn't just a fairy tale story. It is real. He sees you, knows you, and loves you right where you are today.
Did your family struggle financially when you were growing up? Sometimes that feeling of lack can create a great insecurity even when those times are years behind you. Do you still struggle with feeling that you or your family aren't as good as other families? God wants to heal that area of your heart.
Were you hiding a secret that caused you shame and pain?
God longs to bring us into a place of peace where we no longer struggle with hearing the voice inside our head telling us we can never be good enough, never achieve anything, never do anything great. None of that is true, although if it is something you've heard in your head for a long time - it can seem true. You've just gotten used to it.
But that doesn't mean that we can't start over by replacing those lies with what is really true.
The older I become, the more I realize that Jesus isn't just our Savior or a Healer. He is that prince on a white horse that wants to rescue us.
Our four year old son passed away twenty years ago. That is hard for me to believe sometimes. I still remember details very clearly from the night he died. There is still pain there. You aren't supposed to see your little boy on a hospital gurney when there is no longer any life in his body. I still struggle in a very, very big way with fear concerning our other children. I will wake up sometimes and think, "Will I have to go through that again? Please God, don't let that happen again." I recognize that I need healing in that area. There is still a lot of pain there that needs to be healed.
A couple of days ago, I was in line at Walmart to return an item. There were two young men in front of me. Something about one of them caught my eye. For some reason, the moment I looked at him, I understood that he felt bad about himself, as if he felt he wasn't as good as other people. I don't know how I knew that, but it just seems I did. Inside my head, I prayed for him. I prayed that God would show him how valuable and loved he really was.
It hurts my heart to know there are people we pass every day who feel this way. They live and function in pain because it is all they know. I truly want to see that kind of thing healed up in their hearts by the One who loves them the most. I just don't always know how to move from Point A to Point B in how to go about that. I've been thinking about that verse lately that says, "Do the work of an evangelist." I'm perfectly willing if God will lead me in how to do that.
My husband often teaches on our identity. A couple of things he says are:
1. We can actually argue against the word of God when we continue to believe the wrong things.
2. Assuming we already have the truth is one of the biggest barriers to receiving the truth we need.
Part of the process of overcoming pain is in our court. We have to choose to do things in a new way.
Pain hurts. Pain is painful. But God can use even your most painful experiences.Sometimes pain causes us to forge ahead with God in ways that perhaps we would not have done otherwise. He can bring beauty from your ashes.
If I could pray with you, it would be this prayer: "Lord Jesus, open their minds, hearts, and spirits to the truth of who You are and who they are to you. Even when they are sleeping, begin to awaken your love in them. In everyday ways that the can comprehend and know, begin to show them how valuable they are to you."
Much love to each one of you!