In a few weeks, it will be 7 months that I have been walking through a journey of pain. These 7 months have altered my life. I've decided to write about it, because life is hard and there is a temptation to think that you are suffering alone. You're not alone.
The more time that passes in my life, I see an innate desire to avoid pain. I've tried to build and manage my life in such a way that I won't have to face hard things, or at least so that hard things will be minimized. I run to comfort and my calculated efforts. But it does not matter who you are or how well you put buffers up, pain will find you. Below are a few things that I have learned in the last 7 months.
God can handle your honesty.
In the past, when I have suffered, be it physical pain or emotional pain, I have been afraid of how I was feeling. There has been a self-imposed pressure to grit my teeth and bear it. Telling God how I honestly felt was out of the question, because He is sovereign. This pain must be a part of His plan. He will eventually use it for my good, so I just needed to get over my emotions and get on board with it. But it's been different this time around, thanks to encouragement from a friend. I have been incredibly honest and laid it all out on the table. I am finding that God values my honesty. He wants me trust His character (easier said than done). I am discovering the God that the Psalmist describes in Psalm 56:8, "You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?" God cares about my pain. God has and will continue to give me what I need to walk through this. In the middle of my honesty, I see that God's character stands in tact. This brings me to the next ongoing lesson...
Pain will refine your character.
The most American thing about me is my propensity to be autonomous. I value my independence and my ability to handle life as "strong" person. Pain does not cause life to stop, but it causes me live in weakness. I'm not a fan of it. As I have lamented the loss of my independence to a certain degree, my eyes have been opened to a host of ugly things. It has caused me to reevaluate my life. With a full-time job, school and a social life, I have been too busy over the past two years to take the time reflect and reevaluate. I have been running so hard on my own strength. And now I'm starting to see God's abundant wealth of strength. In my weakness He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9). He does not need my strength to be strong or to add to His character. His character is perfect and complete. My character needs work.
You aren't meant to suffer alone.
We were not created to live this life alone. Our Creator does not even live life alone, so how much more do we need others? Transparency is hard, and letting people in when you are feeling weak is scary. There is always the chance that someone will hurt you. As a matter of fact, in the midst of suffering, I can guarantee that someone will hurt you. Suffering with others is difficult. It is hard to know what others need or how to love them in hard times. Community is flawed and will fail you, but they will also come through in beautiful ways. I have seen my community come around me in humbling ways. They have loved me well. But I have also been hurt by others in this time. I have learned about myself and my own sin as others have hurt me. God is the only one that can give us the grace we need to live in each other's lives through good times and bad. For better or worse, we need each other.
If you've been suffering physically or emotionally, I hope that this is an encouragement to you. Pain is hard, even in light of all that it teaches us. So please, if you have no community, let other people into your life. Or, in the meantime, I’d be happy to talk or just listen.