Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Problem of Pain

Pain hurts...
That comes straight from the Dept. of Redundency Dept. (as Ken Himes would say).

Yesterday I was on my way out the door with Grace as I listened to Julie's conversation on the telephone. It sounded something like this..."I don't know why Grace would say something like that, I'm so sorry." It caught my attention so I stopped to listen. It turns out that Grace had been asking Loralai (her friend on the playground) where her daddy was. When Loralai said he was at work Grace looked her in the eye and said, "No he's not, he's dead!" You can imagine how this made Loralai feel. She began to cry as a three year old can do so well. I sat down on the stairs to have a little talk with Grace before we headed out the door. It turns out that she had gotten confused. Loralai's daddy is named Adam. We were studying about Adam in the Bible the night before and Grace asked me where Adam was. I told her that Adam wasn't alive anymore. Although I explained to her that Adam in the Bible and Loralai's Daddy Adam were not the same person, I am convinced that she got confused. After explaining that to Susan, Loralai's mom, it was time for Grace to learn a hard lesson about how we have to apologize even if we do something by accident. We were able to get Loralai on the phone so that Grace could choke out an apology over her tears and anguish which caused Loralai to begin to cry all over again. Over the next couple minutes mommy and daddy also learned a hard lesson...how much it hurts God when his children experience pain. All of this over a little confusion about of all things...a Bible story. Isn't it amazing how God's people cause each other to anguish which sets off a whole series of hurt that just becomes a cycle of rejection and broken relationships. Fortunately, I think Grace will be OK. And Loralai will probably not experience any lifelong difficulties in relation to this event.

Pain hurts...

The truth in this reduntant statement is that things that bring pain to people often bring pain to other people. I learned a hard lesson when we were living in Colorado and working in an unhealthy church environment. The lesson still penetrates my shallow understanding of how people function. It sounds something like this..."Hurting People, Hurt People". I'll never forget the morning we were sitting at Denny's in Winter Haven, FL on a trip home to see Julie's parents and those words came out of the mouth of a dear pastor friend of mine just after we had spilled out our hurts and confusion about what we were experiencing in Colorado. Hurting People, Hurt People. That single statement sparked several thoughts and emotions in my heart. It felt good in the sense that it affirmed that our pain wasn't completely our fault. In another sense, it was frustrating to offer an excuse for how a couple people in our lives were treating us and other people. I know it wasn't meant to be an excuse, only a simple explanation for why people do what they do. But it was still uncomfortable.

Over the next few weeks, as I processed this statement, I began to love the very people that drug me and Julie into a pit that maybe in some ways we dug ourselves. I began to realize that our experience was, at least partially, a product of pain that had been experienced for years by other people and that we were simply sharing in that anquish.

I also began to realize that if I allowed the pain of pain to stick with me (or even stick to me), that someday I would be sharing it with other people. I also became aware that it could be possible that I had already begun to do so. I can't say that in the midst of the damage that had been done I performed this perfect act of Grace and expressed the costly love of Christ, I think I was too damaged to do so. I can't say that I was a healing agent in the hurts and pain that those people had already experienced long before I came on the scene. But, I can say that since that day I have learned to love people through their hurt. I can say that as I am hurt by hurting people today, I have this new found knowledge that they hurt me because they hurt on the inside. I can say that those who hurt me most deserve my most noble response in return, because they are products of the effects of sin.

We can choose to break the cycle of pain for the sake of the Kingdom of God and rise up in victory over the power of the evil one to shout "Grace" to the heaping mountains of junk that has found a home in the baggage that all of us carry. We can offer love in return for hate. We can offer acceptance in return for judgement. We can speak the love of God over those who desire to expel us from the journey to fulfillment that we find in walking a life of purity and community with our fellow man.

The choice lies before us. We can respond in love or choose to return hurt for hurt. What will you do? I choose Christ.

Matt. 5:43 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

1 comment:

Will Whatley said...

This makes me think of 1 Peter 4:

rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you

-W