"When it rains, it pours."
Familiar with that phrase? Lived it? Ever felt like you were drowning in some kind of rainstorm without a trace of an umbrella, lifeboat, or break of sunshine in sight? Yeah...me too.
I'm just gonna get straight to it...life sucks. Life is hard. Life is not fun. Life is unfair. Life is stressful. Life is unpredictable. I am convinced the older I get, the more difficult life becomes. The past year has been an uphill climb for me with lots of debris hitting me in the face, no safety harness attached, and a 300 lb man latched to my back. But before I loose everyone to all of the negativity this blog has opened with, I must clarify.
My life would be considered good. Been married to my high school sweetheart for 7 years, have 3 beautiful, healthy daughters, a nice home, great friends, family and we are a part of an amazing church. My husband and I are both really happy in our jobs and are doing our best to live a life reflective of Christ. We've had our fair share of grief, heartache, and pain too. But the Lord has been faithful to us in those times and delivered us time and time again. So overall, I am incredibly happy about my lot in life at this very moment. I am blessed beyond measure with all the goodness our God has poured out. But that could change in the blink of an eye.
There has been so much pain around us this year. People hurting everywhere. People suffering in silence or masking their deepest wounds for fear of judgement. Tears at every corner. Grief on the hunt like a starving bloodhound. Temptation dangling in front of lonely souls. Fingers being pointed and relationships divided. Trust has sizzled where it once thrived and unconditional love has been overshadowed by selfishness. Manipulation is at it's best while authenticity has taken a back seat. Gossip rings in my ears (literally..I work at a salon) and encouraging words are long gone. Pain and darkness seem to be overtaking humanity and we are all guilty of sitting back and watching our loved ones drown in it one by one. Or maybe you are the one crying out for help, loosing grip of your rope, and everyone is stand around watching you. If we're honest, I think at some point we have all felt like a lamb thrown into a pack of wolves.
How do we make the pain go away? When will life improve? When will people stop getting sick and dying? When will evil disappear forever? When will everyone be genuinely happy and frolic around holding hands running through a glorious field under the canopy of a blue sky with perfect white clouds?
We need to wake up. We need to realize the reality and severity of our world and the pain that exists within it.
GREAT news is we can control our reaction to such pain. Our actions when someone else is hurting. Our response to a loved one who is dying. Our words when their is division. Our care when it is needed. Our love to give when someone is deprived of it. There are beautiful gifts of ourselves to give if we only open up. If we put others' needs before our own. If we see the good in people and aren't constantly blinded or stopped at the bad. If we stop trying to prove our skills and compare ourselves to others by how well we do this or that and instead come alongside each other and lift one another up. There is a lot of bad but there can be a lot of good too.
In frustration and sheer exhaustion from a personal struggle, I lifted up my hands and yelled to my husband, "Why is life so hard?" His words were simple and life giving, "We're not home yet babe."
I felt like the Lord smacked me across the face with my sweet husband's reminder. We were not promised an easy life. Many people question things about God when a loss or death happens. Or a lost job. Or a divorce. Or a family feud. "Why would a good God allow His people to suffer?" My response...what kind of person would I be without having gone through suffering at all? I don't know that I want to know that kind of person. For my fellow believers out there, we can be encouraged in Romans 5, "...but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope..." What kind of person would I be or anyone be without endurance, character, and hope?
So the next time you hear of someone suffering, offer an encouraging word or prayer. If you are suffering, don't hide in it alone. Reach out and get help. There are many things friends of mine, clients, and people I don't even know are experiencing right now that I may never experience but that doesn't exempt me from the pain. We are called to carry each others' burdens and I intend to do that as best as I can for those who need or want their load shared. My dark days were always a little better with someone, anyone, shining the smallest glimmer of light.