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20 Things I Am Learning About Pain and Suffering

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My last post on the problem of pain and some of the needs that come with it was somewhat raw, but real. Here are a few things that I am learning – in no particularly significant order.

1. One of the greatest gifts we can give to folks having a difficult time is letting them know they are not alone. Never underestimate the gift of presence.

2. Having people around you who believe when all you can do is doubt, is priceless

3. The theological perspective of “you must have done something wrong to be going through what you’re going through” is flawed, twisted and a bunch of #%&@%#!

4. Just because a person is still holding on doesn’t mean they’ve never considered giving up.

5. It’s ok to question God, correct or argue with crazy responses from friends, and admit that you despair of life and sometimes despise the day you were born like Job did (eventually, I must write about that brother and his wife too).

6. When you are so angry that you don’t have anything to say to God, having praying people in your life helps. They pray for us when we can’t (and don’t want to) pray for ourselves.

7. Honesty is better than pretense.

8. Folks who claim that they have never been pissed off at God or wanted to give up could possibly be lying or maybe just need to live a while longer in order to find out that it is possible to get there.

9. When people are courageous enough to expose their heart/soul, we should be compassionate enough to support rather than run away from them/avoid them.

10. Sometimes the people you never expected to “be there” are there in ways that provide healing and a sense of relief. They listen more than they talk, they call, they check in with you….

11. [In relation to claiming the status of “friend”] Asking people what they need is so much better than assuming you know what they need. It might even preserve/strengthen a friendship

12. Sometimes people ignore you in the name of “I didn’t know what to do/say,” which leads to an increase in your feelings of isolation.

13. Sometimes forgiving those who add to your pain (knowingly or unknowingly) is frustrating and difficult.

14. God provides others when some neglect you and say they “thought” they needed to give you space. What!?

15. Every smiling face is not happy…. When you take time to look beyond the surface, sometimes you’ll discover the pain of a soul that is crying. Be kind. Be gentle.

16. God can handle expressed anger and doubt and will love us anyway.

17. Faith = holding on when everything in you has quit, given up.

18. People say a lot when they are silent and sometimes the silence is just plain loud!

19. Presence truly is a gift – just being there goes a long way. Nuff said. (I know I said that already, but it’s worth repeating). 🙂

20. Scars are evidence that not only have we been hurt, but that we have been healed. But when the wound is still fresh and open, gentleness is appropriate.


I am pretty sure that the list is not complete, I am continually learning…. What would you add to this list?


New Years “Magic?”

I am always baffled by this time of year when people start using language such as “2011 is gonna be my year,” “it’s my season,” “taste of Heaven in 2011, and other churchy and not so churchy phrases, such as “out with the old, in with the new,” “next year will be different,” New Year, New You.”

I suppose those phrases are not all bad, and for many the climax of an old year, and the beginning of a new year serves as a marker – a time to pause, reflect, and dream again. So, I’m not totally opposed.

However, for many these catchy phrases, and lofty goals and enthusiasm prove to be just empty words, because around Jan 15th things go back to normal and many spend the bulk of the days of the new year dabbling in sameness, procrastination, and stagnation.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a pessimist or a kill joy,  my only point is that anticipation, hope, and excited expectation should not be limited to one day/time of the year and viewed as though because it’s a new year things will somehow be different. Truth is that some of us could have and should have started in November or December rather than put aspirations off until January 1. Others may not find a new spark of creativity and aspirations until February or March, or maybe even October and rather than wait until the calendar strikes a new year (2012), they just need to start where they are and refuse to delay. There is no magic in a date.

It might also be helpful to remember that entering a new year with lofty dreams, without taking time to think,  strategize or plan keeps us in a lulled sleep continuing to dream dreams that never become reality. Though I don’t believe that things will somehow magically be different/better just because the calendar rolls around to January once again, I do believe in setting goals and having hope for better tomorrows all year long. Whatever you have planned, try some of the following practices all throughout the year to keep yourself moving forward:

1. Just Start! By mid year or even before people start the cycle of waiting ’til the “new year” to start something again. Just do it – the calendar date holds no magic whatsoever.

2. Think Deeper Thoughts. When is the last time you read a book? Have you had any conversations with people who know more/differently than you know and allowed them to pour wisdom into your life? Have you had deeper conversations with people who think differently and believe differently than you? Are you still saying the same things, quoting the same Scriptures, singing the same songs, teaching the same lessons, etc that you did last year? What steps will you take to increase your knowledge and understanding this year?

3. Decide not to Squander Opportunities. Every day is an opportunity to make a difference – whether small or great in the life of someone else. Don’t waste the moments you have, maximize them.

4. Be Determined. Life is a combination of things that come easy and things that come with hard work, tenacity, and courage to keep pushing forward in the midst of challenge, adversity, and struggle. Don’t let stuff stop you. If you have a goal, keep moving towards it.

5. Start New Relationships and Readjust Some Old Relationships. I’m not suggesting writing people off, but maybe in addition to the relationships you currently have you might need to initiate some other relationships that will enhance your growth and development as a person. Relationships are always risky – but that’s just the way life is, so go for it.

6. Pray. I place this last, not because it’s least, but because all of the above will be much more difficult without reliance upon Wisdom and a Power greater than yourself. God hears, listens, and helps.

Happy New Year!!!