A great many things have been mulling around in my mind and heart the past week and a half. Life is so full of change and change is so full of pain and pain is so full of possibility. As our life changes greatly and we anticipate new things, I am still in the ‘change is full of pain’ part but in my heart I know I will get to the next place. As I’ve observed people’s words and attitudes for the past few days, one common thread has become so clear to me. The thread of pain.
One friend, not an intimate friend but one I’ve known quite a while, responded instantly to my text message Thursday that said basically this “I am wondering if you aren’t too busy today and are possibly able to come over and help me. I am overwhelmed with laundry and dishes and pain.” She was in her car right away, brought lunch, cleaned my disastrous kitchen, folded load after load of laundry and exuded peace and compassion the whole time she was here. Her pain? The one that comes to mind immediately is her time spent in Africa working among AIDS victims, she will never be the same.
Another young man who when I first met him he struck me as unusual in the best sense. He talked so fondly of his family. He was so delightful to chat with, so comfortable with our family, asked thoughtful questions and played amazingly with our kids. He seemed out of the ordinary to me and I was blessed by it. His pain (that I had no idea about until today)? His father died a couple years ago, leaving I think 5 kids behind.
Last week, when I missed a meeting I’d looked forward to for weeks, after all the kids were in bed I heard knocking on my door. I’d cried the better part of the day and was still in the previous nights’ pajamas. Two women who’d been at the meeting met me at the door, came in to sit on my couch and love me. One held my head to her shoulder as I sobbed for a long time. The other calmed down my confused and upset children. They both extended the arms of Jesus to me in the most physical, tangible way. They had no expectations, they stayed until almost midnight knowing Chris was working super late and I would be alone. Their pain? Lots of things-wounds from people, from loss and from deep struggles in their marriages.
Another whole family has showed great empathy and understanding and care to us. Their daughter cried on my couch with me this week too, another in her kindness and hugs made me cry at church. Their pain? Having to walk through something similar to us several years ago among other things as well.
Last Sunday, lots of people had no words for me, wouldn’t talk with me, walked right by even after making eye contact. But some people did. The ones who did, almost universally, were the ones who have been softened and molded by the presence of great pain. I have consistently watched myself change as year after year it seems, there is a different struggle, a different thing that makes my heart ache. It is through my hurt that God softens my heart to others and is able to better extend love through me. Sometimes I’d like to say, that’s enough-I don’t want any more. But the honest truth is I love what God does in my heartbreak. He doesn’t waste an ounce of it. He lets it touch the lives of other people in ways beyond my understanding. He always brings about good in the midst of what I can only see as bad. He meets me and calms my heart.
That I love. That I want more of. In my pain I want to continue to become one who loves well and can share His love in the most tangible ways.