"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." -- Man in Black, The Princess Bride

I'm not sure how you'll feel about this evening's post. It might not sit well with you. It's an uncomfortable subject. It is not lightly said, however, and I hope that you'll prayerfully consider my point of view.

Pain is the background of life. It is ever-present and unavoidable. It touches every one of us. Look around and you. Murder. Betrayal. Rejection. Insecurity. Look at yourself. Abuse. Dishonesty. Loneliness. Hopelessness.

"For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now." (Romans 8:22)

Nothing mind-blowing so far, right? Here's where I might step on your toes. . . . It's supposed to hurt. We were never meant to live in a world like this. When we are surrounded by such brokenness, we should feel our hearts break!

God intended that we should live in the kind of world where we look around and see Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Where we look at ourselves and see Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-control. That is what we were created for.

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Romans 5:12) 

Sin has messed it all up. It started with one bad choice and snowballed. Sin entered the world and God is allowing Satan to roam free for a time. There will come a day when everyone who will choose life has done so.

When that time comes sin, and it's accompanying pain, will be utterly destroyed. No trace left. But for now... every day, pain trickles (or floods) into our lives like seawater into a leaky boat. A weight of sadness pulls at our soul.

"As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes." (Luke 19:41-42) 

And here's where I might step on your toes again. If you don't allow yourself to feel the pain, you will never be able to fully experience happiness. Even Jesus stopped to consider those He loved and to weep for them.

Some of us are expert at pretending that we don't feel the sadness. Many of us try to hide it because we think it's somehow wrong to admit that we feel sad, especially if we can't say exactly why we feel that way.

"And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)

The idea that life with God means you no longer feel pain is a LIE. God himself grieves for his hurting children. If we are to reflect the heart of God, then shouldn't we grieve as well? However, God would never ask us to grieve without also offering us comfort.

I spent most of my life either wallowing hopelessly in pain, allowing it to consume me, or trying outrun and hide from it. It's only in the past few years that I've learned something infinitely valuable. I have to let myself feel sad. And that's okay.

"And I don't look at you when the light is shining
And I don't feel warm until the water's lapping
Against my feet, around my knees, around my waist"
-- Throw Me, by Chasing Furies

Think of the leaky boat. If you ignore it, or put a pretty pillow over the leak, you'll be okay for a time. But eventually, the water will be around your ankles. Then your knees. Then the whole boat is going down. Avoidance does not work.

If you acknowledge the leak, if you confront it and bail out the water, it could save your life. It's not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea. In our lives, the leak cannot be repaired. Only God can do that, and He decides when.

"God is always late, and always on time." -- Brad Thomas

But if we sit with God and face the pain, He will comfort us. He will bail the water out of our boats and enable us to sail another day. And with the pressure of that sadness lightened, we can more fully experience the peace and joy which God also so abundantly offers.

I'll stop talking now and ask, what do you think?

- - - - -

My first version of this post ended rather abruptly, didn't it?

That would be because my husband came up behind me and started playing with my hair. For anyone who doesn't know, touching my hair turns my brain off.

I haven't gotten much feedback on my thoughts (i really would love to hear from people), but what I have received makes me think I'd better clarify something.

I experience joy every day. And I experience happiness nearly every day. The pain that I allow myself to feel is in no way prohibitive of experiencing joy. Rather, joy comes more easily because God has lifted some of the weight from my soul.

That was part of my original intent behind sharing these thoughts and I apologize if I didn't make myself clear. :)

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