Tag Archive | pain

Lessons Learned While Writing: The Necessity of “Tough Stuff”

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A story that is all sunshine and happy times doesn’t keep the reader engaged. As an author I need to find an inciting incident to start my story. A disturbance of some sort to draw the reader in and make them want to take this journey with me. Obstacles need to be faced because this forces my character to make choices and face consequences—good and bad—for those decisions. Without conflict, the story would be boring. Without challenges the character doesn’t grow and change to become a better person emotionally and spiritually.

The challenge of living in this world filled with sin is we face conflict regularly in real life and sometimes that can be a royal pain. Sometimes we create our own conflict. Sometimes events happen over which we have no control and we are forced to deal with and react to them. Every choice leads us down a path filled with more choices.

The darkness in this world, the grief and heartache we face, serves to remind us of how human we really are. How far from heaven we’ve fallen due to the ongoing and exponentially growing prevalence of sin in the world. But the ups and downs of this life also help us appreciate the good times, the happy moments, the blessings that come along as well.

The stars don’t cease to twinkle when the sun is shining, even though we can’t see them. When darkness falls and we are way from city lights, the stars sparkle in the heavens. So too when life is dark do we sometimes see things clearer. The harshness of death, expands the depth of love. The threat of a terminal illness makes us cling to what really matters. 

Without the difficulties of life it would be, well, boring. At least on a page of a book. We don’t want to read about everything always going great on social media, do we? It’s not real. Everyone has some heartache and challenges they face from within or without. Maybe they won’t share it but it’s there. Sometimes we only get the highlight reel.

It makes me wonder how Heaven in all its glory will compare to this world filled with tears and sorrows, gains and losses, pain and healing. We will be awestruck. We will have work to do as we worship the King of kings and Lord of lords. But there won’t be the struggle, the pain, or the tears.

If you are struggling, hang on. It won’t last forever because we have something wonderful to look forward to.

Depression: The ‘blues’ are not what you think they are

Reading Time: 3 minutesI’m doing something I normally don’t do. I’m writing a blog post while I’m sunk in the pit of major depression.

I’m not crying. I did that a few days ago. I could easily do it again though.

It’s been years but a few days before writing this I had dangerous thoughts. No, not going to kill myself. But I just want my life to be over.

There gets to be a point where criticism and rejection get to be too much. Some would say it is a satanic attack when you have thoughts like this. I’m not totally convinced. When memories rise up and crowd around threatening to beat you with every hurting word,  betrayal, insult and more, it’s hard to blame satan for the words of others that come back to torture a soul. How do you blame satan when I can beat myself up quite well without his help?

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words may destroy me.

Having lived with major depression for years, I normally would seek out someone. Go to lunch. But right now that would only seem to fulfill what some would say is “attention-seeking” behavior or my deep seated need for validation.

So why even bother?

A wise man told me that those with the gift of encouragement are often the most in need of it.

Lately there’s been little encouragement. Oh, there’s people who like me on-line perhaps. But some of the closest in my circle prefer to ignore me.

Now, Susan, if you are posting this aren’t you attention seeking now? Why, this goes out to the whole world-wide web! 

But you don’t know when I wrote this. This could show up days, weeks or months after I post it. So, in this moment of deep pain, I am not seeking attention or validation for my existance.

I’m strangly at peace with a desire to not be here anymore. I’m tired of the fight and then immediately chide myself for being such a wimp. People go through far worse struggles than I have and emerge just fine.

But that’s them, and I’m me.

I’m strangly more productive right now. Immersing myself in work and trying to avoid the pain in many ways. Isolating as much as possible. But if you see me you will get a smile. I won’t share that pain on my facebook page or even at church.

That’s the curse of mental illness, isn’t it? You break a leg and everyone is sympathetic. Have surgery and meals are brought to you. Depression? Who wants to deal with a chronic issue like that? It’s just, well, depressing.

Take a pill. I already do take medication but even increasing the dose wouldn’t help me in this moment. It can take weeks to feel an improvement and taking too much has it’s own issues. Medication is not always the solution.

I get it. See, along with my own pain I often carry the pain of others. A hyper-sensitive person is great to confide in, share with, be validated and encouraged by. I don’t regret ever doing that. I do it beause I know how much it hurts. Been there, done that, doing it again right now. And I am grateful that God can use my hurts to help others.

My heart aches in that, beyond prayer for God, I feel helpless to do anything else for them. A hug, a smile, a word of encouragment and they go back to the daily pain of their lives. These people are in my church, they are in larger world of friends and they are online. Loss. Grief. Rejection. Physical pain. Financial distress. Women left by “Christian” men and those women raising children alone.

I despise my own pain even as it provides a position for me to minister to others in theirs.

So I pray. I write. I work. I cry and I wait.

I wait for God’s hand to work in whatever way He choses. I cast myself on His tender hands at his torturous cross. No one fully understands my pain but Him anyway. I can’t imagine walking through this life without Him.

The Looming Cloud of Depression

Reading Time: 2 minutesThis was originally published in September of 2010

I’ve struggled with depression most of my life.  With medication I have more ‘good’ days than bad, although circumstances and hormones and my thyroid issues can mess with all of that.  The past few days I’ve been feeling the shadow of that cloud looming and am troubled by it.  I usually try NOT to write publically when I’m like this.  Not sure why. I don’t need any guests to my pity party and I don’t always like to explain the challenging circumstances that I have lived in and continue to experience on a daily basis. It almost makes it worse to talk about it.  It is the way it is. I’ve had to make tough choices and sometimes the consequences are painful.

This week I have a book to read that will scrape wounds raw.  When I don’t have to look at my challenges and can rise above them (or pretend they don’t exist!), I do better.  But I cannot always stay there forever. I’m finding it hard to lean into the pain I know will come, because I can’t leave it there when I set the book down.  However, the issues are bigger than me – they extend to the women (and men) of our church and beyond.  So I need to step up even if it hurts. Sometimes life just hurts when you have to face into things that don’t change even though your heart wishes they would.  I need to grieve my losses again while seeking to live in hope.  I serve a God I can trust with the future.

All of this is before I even crack the book open. However, I had to do something similar two weeks ago and haven’t fully recovered from the emotional wrenching it did inside. So in a way, I’m trying to be realistic.

I wish I could use food to numb or stuff down some of that pain.  But those choices have negative consequences and I’ve made so much progress in that area this year.  Now is not the time to backslide.  Sometimes I just have to feel it.  But I don’t wanna! my heart cries out. Well, I don’t like doing dishes and laundry and still – some things must be done.

I’m reminded that it is times like this when I am able to draw closer to Jesus.  Knowing He treasures the tears that I sometimes am unable to cry. Knowing that my deepest pains – He has experienced.  I’m grateful I have a God who sees, loves and holds me.  King David resonates with me so much. “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” (Psa 43:5 ESV)

How about you? Is there a painful reality that is rearing its ugly head and needs to be dealt with head-on?  How are you coping? How can I be praying for you?   Heed also the wisdom from my eight year old son: storms have a purpose in cleaning the air – purifying it.  I think that applies to the emotional ones too.

Unmet Needs

Reading Time: 4 minutes

This post was written by Cheryl Cross: a friend, missionary, amazing mom and wife who always seems to smile and exude grace. I hope you are encouraged by her words like I was.

There have been many times when I have felt “in the pit,” not because of my own sin nor because of a lack of intimacy with God. Yet I’ve sat there, bearing the burdens of this world, wishing God would just simply make me feel better as I face the onslaught. God, though, sometimes wants me to sit there, recognizing that this world and the people in it often bring me pain. There is sorrow that God won’t erase even with his perfect peace and unending joy.  That’s when I look to His word and see this: Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. Seriously, God?  When my earthly need of feeling loved and accepted and wanted and cherished is unmet, You can make my heart glad? Is it possible to have a glad heart and have grievous pain at the same time? I’m beginning to believe it. I’m not there yet; I don’t have it all pulled together. But when I think of those moments when the tears flow abundantly, I meet the Lord in a sweeter way than any other moment of earthly joy. That’s what He means. He designed us to have needs and wants that are met by our loved ones that He provides, but when those earthly needs are unmet, He sits with us in our sorrow.

This time, when the tears come, when the pain seems so overwhelming that it might break us, perhaps we can just sit and wait with God on the gladness of heart that only He can bring. Perhaps we can choose to press in to his tender arms and let the sorrow rain down around us. Lord, may I see You in the sorrow and not run away from You so that You may bring me gladness of heart.

Ecclesiastes 7

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting,

for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.

Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.

For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity.

Surely oppression drives the wise into madness, and a bribe corrupts the heart.

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.

Say not, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun.

For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.

Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?

In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.

In my vain life I have seen everything. There is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing. Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself? Be not overly wicked, neither be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of this, and from that withhold not your hand, for the one who fears God shall come out from both of them.

Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.

All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out?

I turned my heart to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know the wickedness of folly and the foolishness that is madness. And I find something more bitter than death: the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. Behold, this is what I found, says the Preacher, while adding one thing to another to find the scheme of things— which my soul has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.