Hello lovely, intelligent, gorgeous friends! Thank you for taking the time to come over to my blog + read along today! Do you know how much that means to me? Well, it surely does! Today, I come to you with a bit of a heavy heart. As I consider the many horrendous things happening in our country + beyond, my heart hurts for the pain being inflicted across our world. I also have many friends on a personal level who have voiced their own personal despair, hardship, loneliness, heart ache, sickness, rejection, + more. To get even more personal, I have been candid with you loves that I too am going through a particularly challenging season. There is so much darkness that seems to be clouding many of us, which begs me to wonder, how do we move forward, exactly? How do we find the light in the darkness?
This is a bit of a loaded question, so I am going to try to unpack this blog post as simple + as real as possible in the hopes of showing you some form of encouragement amidst whatever type of hardship or pain you may be dealing with. First + foremost, I want to recognize the pain you are feeling + let you know it is valid. While you may find many surrounding people that will try to make you feel as though your pain is insignificant, or that you should never have a sad moment, or that crying isn’t allowed….I am here to tell you that feeling the pain is not only TOTALLY OKAY, but also necessary. In fact, my recent life motto courtesy of the amazing Lysa Terkeurst is that “we must feel the pain to HEAL the pain.” PHEW.
So, what does feeling the pain really mean? Well, to be quite honest, for me sometimes that means tired nights crying in my room pleading with God in frustration + sadness + hurt. But each + every time these moments of tears come flowing, I try to never succumb to just my own thoughts + isolation [which believe me, would make it a heck of a lot worse!]. Instead, I openly invite God to come into the place of tears with me. Amidst the tears I actually ask Him to let me feel the pain so I can heal from the pain with His guidance over time. You might be saying… “Girlfriend are you crazy?! You actually ask God to make you feel the pain?! That is cray cray!” I understand why you might think so, but I promise you that the pain isn’t the enemy. The enemy is, well, the enemy, + you staying in the place of pain pretending it doesn’t exist, or worse not doing your very best to seek ultimate healing is what the enemy craves. It is what fuels him + his vicious plan to actually prolong the pain in your heart.
We often see crying as a form of weakness, but I STRONGLY want to encourage you against this typical way of thinking. The amazing Tim Keller said in his sermon “Praying Your Tears” that we should do 3 things with our tears when they come as a result of pain + hardship. We must expect them, we must invest them, + we must pray them. Do not be afraid of the tears from the pain you have endured, but rather embrace them wholeheartedly + see them as a place where God wants to heal you. Crying is good. Crying is comforting. Crying is healing. In fact, did you know that throughout SO much of the bible men are actually crying? Yes, crying! In fact there is more crying in the Bible than there is joy. Holy moly! Crying is not a sign of weakness, but rather it is an indicator that healing + processing is taking root. All that to say, you have full permission to cry your eyes out dearest ones [just make sure you invite God in while you do it!]!
When we embrace the pain + hardship in our life + choose to face it rather than run from it we can actually press forward in victory. Darkness will not succeed if we invite the light in. Indeed, the more positive, life giving light we let in, the brighter our future becomes. I love in first John 1:4 that it says:
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” 1 John 1:5
See that phrase: the darkness has not overcome it. Indeed friends, the darkness will NOT prevail should we let in the light.. should we embrace the pain.. should we seek healing. Trust me when I say I know this is not easy. What is easier is filling our schedule with endless activities, or avoiding friends completely in self isolation, or holding back our tears when we feel them coming, or pretending to smile on the outside when inside our soul is crumbling. Doing any one of these things would be just like adding extra road blocks to the healing of our heart. They are holding us back. Avoiding the jarring pain will not make it go away, it will only prolong the healing process + make us weaker in the end. Since when did any doctor ever tell you that avoiding the wound will make it heal on its own? The answer is never, because simply put avoiding the pain never actually makes it go away!
A great example of avoiding the pain can be demonstrated through my shoulder injury. I have dislocated my shoulder 3 separate times now over the course of 4 years. Yup, 3. If you are thinking that must mean I am REALLY into sports, you are sorely wrong [I wish!]. All 3 times happened out of sheer clumsiness. I can feel your judgment eyes already ;). Time number 1, I feel down a spiral staircase in new shoes. Then a year later I fell down in the NY Subway Station [those NY grounds are quite lovely, let me tell ya!]. 2 years after that I got plummeted by a wave in Hawaii whilst trying to save my designer sunglasses that had just fallen to the ocean floor. As you can see, there was nothing athletic about any of my 3 dislocations.
The thing that still gets me to this day is that I could have actually avoided dislocation # 2 + #3. If I had gone to my physical therapy regularly, + exercised to build the muscles up around my arm it would have actually been strong enough to hold me when I was falling one year later. The problem is, I didn’t want to put in the effort. It was painful + felt unnecessary as life continued to whizz on by. Instead of facing the issue, I decided to do the bare minimum + avoid the rest. IF I had taken the time to invest in healing my shoulder the proper way, I could have most likely saved myself a WHOLE lot of additional pain, not to mention a whole lot of money that was since spent on emergency rooms, MRI’s, + more intensive treatments. If I had embraced the pain while I was IN the pain, I could have avoided the half healed state of my arm that was hanging on by a thread [sorry for that visual image!].
Just like in the case of my dislocated shoulder, when we avoid the pain, shun the tears, + get distracted by the other things of life… we often find ourselves just that much deeper in pain when the next large wave of hurt hits [in my shoulder’s case, quite literally]. But what IF, we embraced the hurt + pain + focused on pressing forward, putting a conscious effort into letting a sustaining light into the dark places? Before we know it, the pain will start to subside, + the light will lead us to a path of renewed hope.
My prayer for all of you going through a time of darkness right now, is perfectly written in Psalm 46.
Let God be your refuge + your strength during this time of hardship. Let Him embrace you + be your ever-present help in this time of trouble + hurt. Do not fear that there is no way out of the darkness, because God is within YOU + you will NOT fall. He is your fortress of your protection + the ultimate guider of your every step. Find rest knowing that this word is FOR YOU in this time of pain + confusion.
In the midst of a truly difficult season, I have been mourning quite a bit. While writing this post, I spent a bit of time reflecting over my recent journal entries. Sometimes in my journal, I write down truths so that I can re-read them in the times when I am feeling the darkness encroach back around me + my light begin to fade. Here are some of the truths that I recently wrote down:
Jesus, your strength sustains me. Your love fills me. Your comfort touches me. Your truth pierces me. Your protection covers me. Your joy overtakes me.
These are my prayers for you, friends. All of you who are aching + filled with despair + hard trials, I pray for you. Let’s join forces on the path to embrace the pain + seek healing in the process. Know that the nights I am crying through the pain, I shed tears for you too. I am praying just as much for God to fully envelop your heart as He is mine. Join me as we press forward together to bring light into the dark, aching places of our souls.
Praying for you all, + love you all.