Every human being alive knows the definition of pain. For some, it’s chronic illness – physical, or mental. Life has a habit of launching some curve balls aimed at destroying the status quo. Our action, inaction, or reaction to reality altering events is what sets the tone of our journeys and lives.
When the pain is unbearable, it is easy to lose sight of hope – hope for anything other than pain. In the intensity of a crisis or painful episode, the shaded sunglasses are fastened tightly. Through them, we only see darkness. The brightest sunny day, with birds chirping and life happening can appear dark and dreary as we wear these glasses. It’s being sight impaired to beauty for fear of the pain.
That is what pain does. It blocks our vision. It keeps us from enjoying the okay or good times because there is a paranoid expectancy of the demons and darkness lurking around the corner.
On the converse, those moments where we’re feeling those unexpectedly beautiful moments, and we are able to take joy in them — it’s more crushing when the pain returns. There is no denying that good and beautiful things happened. There are sometimes undeniable miracles at work. Even with those, it’s hard to hang onto what feels like fleeting beauty. Sunglasses continue to darken the world around us.
We all have pasts. The collective pain and brokenness that each individual brings into a crowded room is unfathomable. Hidden scars. Brokenness. Some have walked through addiction, sexual abuse or rape, traumas of all kinds, physical or mental illnesses, bullying, crisis moments, losses of small and great magnitudes – just pain that is unimaginable.
We all need to recognize the FACT that every single person in there is a living, breathing story. Each comes with their own story – what brought them to where they are today.
Let’s talk about healing. And taking off those sunglasses.
Healing is a term that people throw around when things hurt. Physical or mental. When life hurts, I can almost guarantee that you will hear that time heals all wounds. Whoever tells you that is lying. They may not intentionally be liars, but time doesn’t heal everything that hurts. Some things, time does allow you to better get a grip of, or to carry a little easier…but take away the pain? Nope, not so much.
However, there are things in life that help heal.
When life hurts, love heals. It doesn’t make the wounds automatically go away, but it dulls the sharpness of the pain. When someone offers an outstretched hand, and doesn’t greet pain with silence, healing can happen in unimaginable ways. Hope that we were temporarily blind to – that hope holds your hand and sits with you in the pain. That place is where healing happens.
It’s important to note that it’s okay to not be okay. But, when you’re not, please reach out – and allow someone else the honor of your taking their outstretched hand. No, reaching out doesn’t erase the pain. It won’t, and it can’t. Even when you feel that you’re walking through hell on earth, it’s heartwarming to know that you don’t have to do it alone.
A little side note. A personal aside, if you will. Saturday night, leading into Sunday morning, I was feeling down. More than down. My heart was heavy, and I was not in a great place, mostly mentally. The pain well, it just hurt. I made the conscious decision to do something I didn’t want to. I went to church. I normally do want to attend, but, right then, I wanted nothing of it. I hadn’t slept well, and I would have rather stayed in bed. However, I chose to go. Not only that, but I chose to be honest with people when they asked how I was doing. Their response to my pain was what ushered in a healing, though not immediate, that was undeniable. They didn’t run from my pain, but instead they gave my heart a voice. The were intentional with their time, and they listened. They didn’t part ways with the cliche answer that told me they’d pray for me. No. They asked if they could go to God on my behalf – right then and there. They offered prayer, and an outstretched hand of friendship. They offered practical things, and shared ideas. In other words, they were a friend.
Following that, I was still just feeling unwell. I connected with friends via social media. We all know social media can be damning, but it can also be a network of support as well. Today, I connected with friends. My friends encouraged me to connect with others and they offered that hand of friendship that, even virtually, was a healing force. After some brief chats, I took a nap. I had to. After getting some much needed rest, I took the time to think on all this. Life, and also this day specifically. The power of love became very real to me. The power of connecting, and allowing others in.
Even not being alone doesn’t mean the storms aren’t damaging.
It is what we choose to do in these moments that define us. For me, it’s accepting the gift of friendship. When there is an outstretched hand, it’s taking it and allowing myself to just be. To just feel. To cry the tears that I want to suppress. A friend recently reminded me that I needed to feel what I was feeling, and that it was okay. Even the brokenness and tears. That is a reminder I have shared with many people over the course of time – but, hearing the words said to me – did something in my heart.
No, healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage is no longer permitted to control our lives.
I know it’s sometimes easier said than done. I’ve walked through hell on earth. I’ve known deep pain. But, I’ve also come to know hope and healing.
If you are or were a kid who was picked on and bullied, know that you don’t have to be defined by that. Healing is possible, and you are more. Your life is valuable, and you matter more than the words of any written language could express. There are many who may feel their pain is a result of their own doing. If you feel like you’ve messed up, always remember that you are not a sum of your past mistakes. You can make choices that enact positive change. You don’t hold all the keys to the universe, but you do hold some to your own world. We can’t control everything, but we can control our own actions.
Yes, bad things happen. Yes, it sucks. But, no, it doesn’t have to define your entire life. Brokenness can be exchanged for healing. It may not happen immediately, but it can happen. Sometimes love and friendship is like a healing salve applied to intensely painful wounds to aid in the healing process.
In case no one has told you this, please hear me. I believe in you. I believe in your story. I believe in the power of a shared story. So, let me offer this. If you have a story to tell, or just want to talk – reach out. I’m here, and others are as well. You can post in comments or send me a message via my “contact me” page. Just never give up on your story. Yours is a beautiful story, with chapters yet to be written. Never, ever give up.