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Posts Tagged ‘Pain’

“My heart will choose to say273875221061192505_k4upYWa7_b
Lord, blessed be Your name”

Worship is a beautiful, action to participate in … in the sanctuary, under our roof, out in the open of God’s creation.

Some days our worship is ritualistic … I do it because I should.

“When I’m found in the desert place”

Some days our worship is intimate … I do it intimately, even in a crowded room.

“In the land that is plentiful”

Some days our worship is robotic … I do it, hoping the outward becomes the inner.

“When the darkness closes in”

Some days our worship is joy-filled … bursting from every cell in our body.

“When the world’s ‘all as it should be”

Some days our worship is loud and proud … I do it with a party in my soul.

“Where Your streams of abundance flow”

Some days our worship is silent … I am a face in the crowd, but I cannot open my mouth.

“On the road marked with suffering”

Some days our worship is against our will … through the clenched teeth of an angry heart.

“When the darkness closes in, Lord”

Some days our worship is saturated by the tears of our heart.

“Though there’s pain in the offering”

Worship is not limited to where we are, when we are there, who we are with, how we feel or the circumstances of our lives at that specific time. Worship is an act of love, respect and honor and it is received as that. Worship is good when things are going well, but it is even better when we can worship our Creator through times of difficulty, suffering and pain.

As I sang the words,

“You give and take away”

It, that which I lost, that which I loved, came clearly into my mind, and for a moment the sorrow of loss weighed heavy on my heart. For a moment that common heart response emerged into my thoughts … why?

When we lose something we love, when our life takes a u-turn, when plans change, and loss is what we feel most profoundly, it is then that why comes crawling back. The word without a consoling response. The word with no bandage effect. The word that causes festering, more pain, more sorrow.

Then came the next line, the one with the salve that gives healing, comfort, consolation …

“My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name”

To choose to say, in the pain, in the suffering, in the darkness, in the sorrow, in the loss,

Lord, blessed by Your name

That is the only covering bandage that will make what is lost to not be the end of the story.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21

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How do I introduce a guest post whose writer’s words have so fed my soul, filled my heart, made me weep and taught me that I’m still a newborn in learning to be thankful? As I lay across my bed, with dark shadows of fatigue and stress from choosing to carry the weight of the world all by myself, there are also lines of mascara from the leaking from my tear ducts just minutes ago, as I was gently massaged with words like ointment on my scarred heart.aholyexperience-logo

Let me introduce you to a woman who knows about
delight,
joy,
fear,
pain,
Eucharisteo (Thanksgiving)!

I was introduced to the (Canadian) New York Times bestselling author of “One Thousand Gifts,” Ann Voskamp by two co-workers who said that I NEEDED to read it. I am cheap and thought that signing up for her blog would do just fine, thank-you … I was right … and wrong.

The blog was good, no great! And so I bought the book. I bought the book in early September, and have only read three chapters in the three months, not because it is not good … Quite the contrary, it is too good to rush through! I am savoring it like aged cheese, sweet wine, dark chocolate … No! Not even those favorites can compare. More like those moments when you held your newborn baby and looked into their eyes praying that God would imprint every detail of that moment into your memory … that is what this book is like!

And so today I am offering to you a treat that I think might send you to the bookstore too! Enjoy A Holy Experience

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Monday morning in staff devotions, a teacher shared a story called Serpent, by Joan McCarthy (from a publication called Pro Rege, December, 1997), and I loved it! Then, two days later that same teacher read it again, this time in devotion time to his class, and I loved it more!

Today, I want to share the story with you, enjoy …

Serpent sinuously slips unseen and smiling through the grass with eyes narrowed to cruel slits. It has heard the cry of pain and rejoices.

“That cry echoes across the universe. it trumpets my victory. “Scream Eve, scream,” it hisses. “Today something new will be added to creation. Adam, the namer, will have to provide a name for the cessation of life.”

On its belly it slithers silently to a low tree and peers at the woman who lies curled beneath the branches. Fear and pain are on her dirt streaked face, and sweat gives a sheen to her skin in the light of early dawn. She moans. Serpent tingles with delighted anticipation and moves up the trunk of the tree and on to a branch to watch with eager, glittering eyes.

“You chose to know good and evil, ” it lisps. “My gift to you, Eve. Know evil. Know pain in your once perfect body. Feel the coming of the end. God has cursed us, but your screams are my laughter in God’s face.”

Eve’s body jerks at the sound. She recoils in recognition and struggles to push herself away, but the tree trunk blocks her. “Not you. Not now, ” she whispers through clenched teeth. Her whole body begins to tremble before Serpent’s icy stare.

“Yes, woman, it is I, the one you accused.” Serpent brings its head within inches of her face. “But why are you fearful? I sought only to make you wise. This suffering is the Maker’s doing. It was the Maker who denied you eternal life and drove you from Eden.” Serpent draws back, lays its head on the branch and coolly regards Eve. Remember the Maker’s words, ‘you shall surely die.’ What do you think is happening to you now woman, you mere afterthought of a jealous God?”

Eve’s eyes widen with terror and she screams for Adam. Serpent sneers. “Ah, yes, Adam, the crown of creation, over there crouching behind that tree. He is not in pain. His body is not swollen and deformed, but yours ….” Serpent averts its eyes in revulsion. “Adam blamed you, you know,” it says turning back to her. “Now see what has befallen you while he goes free. Perhaps, the Maker is destroying you and will create a fresh, new Eve for Adam, one that will once again delight his eyes. You will be returned to dust and the breath that quickened you will blow, lost forever.”

Serpent draws its face close to hers. “Call on me. I have the power to deliver you from your pain.”

Eve stares, her eyes wide with bewilderment that changes to horror. She tries to move toward Adam. In a louder voice Serpent addresses her once again. “So you not know what awaits you? See the fear in the eyes of Adam. He shall not help you. His manhood melts before your cries. He hears his own mortality in them and knows terror for the first time. He will run as far as he can from you and your groaning. You shall face your end alone.”

Serpent draws back to watch with a satisfied smirk as Eve’s body convulses once again. Her hands tear at the swollen belly. But, this time, no sound escapes her lips.

As the pain ebbs, her eyes seek the man. Seeing him, indeed, gathering himself to flee, she calls out with all her strength, “Adam, stay. Be man for this woman.”

Adam hesitates and turns his head to look back at her. She extends a trembling hand to him. “Do not fear my pain, Adam. It is mine alone. you too will have pain that will be your own. Comfort me now as you shall desire to be comforted.”

Serpent drops his coils from the branch and slips to Adam’s side. “Flee, Firstmade. Save yourself. She has no comfort left to give you. If you stay, you will see her end and taste your own. Turn while you can. You never needed her to do great things. She was only a gift, a helper for your great deeds, a pleasurable amusement. She has ceased to be helpful or amusing.”

Eve rises on one arm. “So not listen to the words of the cunning one. Serpent twists truth. I have always been with you. The Maker did not start over with me. He drew me from you-as you have said, ‘bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.’ All we have left of the Maker’s image is each other-together we bear that image in its completeness. I do not believe the Maker will destroy part of it. We must not let this evil one tempt us to shatter it and doom us to wander incomplete and alone. That will be worse than pain.”

Adam stops. Slowly the terror leaves his eyes. Serpent rises up before him. “Take care. She deceives you once again. you are the important one.”

But Adam pays him no heed. With his eyes fixed on Eve’s, he goes to her. He cradles he in his arms. With gentleness he wipes her brow and holds her through her pain.

Hissing in disgust Serpent tries to insinuate himself between them. “Fool, fool, save yourself.”

Suddenly Eve gives a great cry and Serpent sees her drew something from her own body. Its eyes widen in horror. Eve has not died. She has brought forth a new creature, small and wet and shining in the growing light.

Then the new one opens his mouth and begins to cry. The gleam returns to Serpent’s eyes. “This is not a new creation. It too feels pain. It is just one of them. I will coil around the door of his heart and have my way with this one too. I can wait.”

But the crying hushes. Adam, his face full of wonder as he tries to name what he has seen, has broken a large leaf from a nearby tree and brought it to Eve. She covers the man child with it and cradles him to her body.

All that can be seen is the kicking of tiny heels. A smile of triumph flickers across Serpent’s face and then suddenly dies. A shiver runs along its body, and it quickly lowers it head and slides silently away through the dust.

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A wise person theologian … one once said,

I think that our inner compulsion is to run from it. That gives us complete separation, and immediate relief. But does running from it have positive, long-lasting results? I do not know for sure that answer, but I tend to think it might chase us, and when we least expect it, re-surface again.

Then there is learning from it. Oh, how slow that process seems, and painful for to learn is to look at the pain and face it. But could more, long lasting good come from that process? I do not know for sure that answer, but I tend to think it is the better way.

There is a man in the Bible, of whom little is known, but one thing we do know is that he did not run from his past.

This man is Jabez. His one entry in the Bible is in the Old Testament book of 1 Chronicles. He shares his name also with a town near Bethlehem, but I am not sure if the town was named after him.

The accounting of Jabez, and his life is:

“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers.
His mother had named him Jabez,saying,
“I gave birth to him in pain.” 
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel,
“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!
Let your hand be with me,
and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”
And God granted his request.”
1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Jabez was named by his mother, and I would guess that would not have been the norm, in such a patriarchal society. Now either his birth was horrific, or the timing of his birth was, or something else dreadful must have accompanied his entry into the world for his mother to have named him as she did.

The name Jabez is Hebrew, and it means sorrowful or pain. In those days, and within that Hebrew culture, a name was almost a prophetic statement, or a foundation for who this baby was to become. Andpas his mother saw his future as sorrowful or painful.

Whatever the reason his mother named him as she did, Jabez past followed him everywhere. Imagine the teasing of his childhood peers down by the well, “hey Sorrowful, having a good day? Oh, that’s right you NEVER have a good day, you are Sorrowful!”

He had a choice, run from it, or learn from it.

Well, it would appear that he did not run from it, heck, he didn’t even change his name, nor did God as He had of others in the Bible (Abraham, Sarah, Paul, etc.).

Instead, he somehow knew that the only hope he had of a future that was not sorrowful, was to pray. And pray he did:

“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel,
“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!
Let your hand be with me,
and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”

His prayer was for a future complete with a relationship with the God of Israel, complete with blessing (perhaps the blessing he did not get from his parents), complete with God’s protection, complete with freedom from … pain. The prayer of Jabez is the desperate cry of a man born with a curse, with a past, and he knew it well. But, he also knew that he did not have to stay in his sorrowful state, and he knew the only one who would hear his cry … the God of Israel.

“And God granted his request.”

And, He will hear our cries to be freed from our hurtful pasts,
we just need to learn to cry out to the One who will hear us,
to change the direction of our lives.

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As I watch the dark push away the light,

The sun is being swallowed by the horizon

Gone forever

My soul longs for the it’s final small slivers still in the sky,

The remnants of what is passing,

Of what will also soon be gone forever,

Never to be exactly the same as in this present moment.

My head lays down at night with the hope of light arising again in morning,

When darkness falls upon this world it is a reflection of my heart,

My heart whose life evidence was in it’s soundless beat in my ears,

But whose rhythm I felt in the whole of my body,

Now, it too is gone.

The ache settles in my soul, filling every part, forcing the last rays of light away,

Until there is nothing but darkness,

There is no light in view,

There is only nothingness,

In the dark there is no light to keep me warm,

To make me feel alive.

In the dark there is no growth

There is an absence of all things that light allow to grow,

And more dire than a severed vein,

There is only the stagnancy from the absence of anything,

Nothingness is all that is left,

The light is gone,

The dark has come,

The ache is all that remains,

To torture my soul,

Forced into believing

I am still alive.

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Within twenty-four hours I had been deeply moved, deeply honored, deeply grieved.

The source of my experience were my three children, and each had communicated the same desire of me … to spend more time with me.

I felt one main feeling … guilt. Guilt that they felt that they had been lacking in time with me, guilt that I had not made more effort. Guilt that there simply are no more hours in my day. This one heavily weighted me down as a mom, as I laid my head on my pillow that night.

For all three to actually come to me meant that this feeling of not having time together has been percolating in their minds for more than a few days, more than a few weeks. I felt awful.

The worst of this whole thing was that I knew they were right in saying so. For weeks, I have been thinking to myself, I feel like I need to be more intentional at spending time with my kids. The problem is, I only thought it, and, although good intentions are good, they are not good enough.

My mother heart was torn.

When, as a mother, you have failed, and you know it, it hurts. When you know others know it, it hurts even more. When your own kids know it, and express it … sigh … it feels as though you have failed at your most important reason for being.

Now that it has been a number of days since my three communicated this to me, and I feel a bit better able to see things in a more balanced, less pained way. My kids messages to me were not all bad, they were an … announcement, a wake up call, and it was one I plan to answer!

The first realization was one of success … my kids TOLD me what they were missing. How many times I have asked them to tell me their thoughts, their needs, and they did this.

The next was one of wake up. When our first daughter was born, I wondered, as I looked around at families, how a parent could evolve from the newness of baby love to not talking with their teen. I had made it a goal way back then, to not lose the baby love phase with my kids, and this goal needed to be revived … now!

The final realization was that I am human. This is something I know, but not something that my expectations of myself allow when it comes to my kids. But, I get caught up in the immediate of life. I get tired. I say yes to too many things. All that to say, I need my kids help in meeting the expectations that they have of me, and I have of myself in regards to how I love them. So, I have asked each of them to help me find a way to meet this mutual need. This is still in progress, but I expect that they will each send me a note, leave a post it on my mirror, send me a text, email or a FaceBook message to let me know when they need my time. And, I will make time for them.

In the meantime, I awoke on Mother’s Day with the iron in my soul that they would not go to bed feeling that they were lacking in time with me. So, after church, I informed them that they would be having lunch with me. We left church, and headed to the grocery store deli where we chose sandwiches and snacks. Then we four (no dad, and no one else … not even the beast) drove to a beautifully shaded park, ate our lunch, took pictures and laughed together.

It was so good to spend this time together, just us four. My heart felt full!

I am so glad that they each told me what they were missing, and that I had the unusual wisdom to hear their hearts with my own. Perhaps their outward cries, came from what my own heart was missing too.

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It was a beautiful painting. As I stood before the gorgeous combination of colors. The vision of mountains and sky. The strokes of the painters brush … the strokes of a painter of passion, a painter of purpose.

It is a pictorial representation of that familiar description of the aura one having a migraine is often known to speak of. So, in the midst of her beautiful painting, is something like a hole. This ‘hole’ makes the painting look flawed to the point of being painful to view.

One of her purposes in creating this painting was to create a visual for her doctor, to show him what it is she experiences. It could be said that her painting is the picture of the pain no one sees, except for her.

Another picture of pain could be an x-ray, to confirm a broken bone. Or an ultrasound to confirm an ectopic pregnancy.

Sometimes the picture of pain can also be vicarious. Just the other morning a friend was telling me of a sports injury that her husband had suffered. He had thought he had broken a bone, but now it looks more like the muscle was torn from the bone. Just hearing about it caused a shiver down my spine, as I vicariously imagined the pain that must cause.

These are pictures that are bright with the colors of pain.

There is other pain that is more difficult to see, more difficult to experience. It is the pain of the emotion, of the heart. This kind of pain is not visible, like fall colors, but it is hidden in the shadows of our heart.

For people to know that you are suffering with this kind of pain, the one in pain needs to share their experience. I refer to his as bleeding publicly. This unseen pain can be the most mentally, spiritually and even physically altering pain.

The only visual that one suffering the ravages of hidden pains, is one of a hand gripped around ones heart, squeezing tighter and tighter, just to the point that would end it’s pulsing, and the relief of final death.

A broken heart rarely does stop beating. It keeps going, and the pain continues. Gradually it subsides, and the pain lessens. But the scar tissue is permanent, and the person carries their scars, like an amputee carries their scars. We may go to our grave concealing our greatest pains, our greatest injuries.

These scars recreate us. Others may never see our heartaches, but they will see the picture that the pain has created in our re-created self.

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain,
but it is more common and also more hard to bear.
The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden:
it is easier to say
“My tooth is aching”
than to say
“My heart is broken.””
C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain 

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