Honesty in Pain

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My life is like molasses. 

It’s sticky and difficult to work with. It’s thick and messy. It’s sweet, but complicated. It’s not something that you want all by itself to binge eat, but when mixed with other ingredients can make some of the best cookies you’ve ever tasted.

This was the picture I got as I walked through the crisp night air while reflecting on this fall. This autumn as it fades not-so-gently into winter, has made me actually glad that the season is ending. It was a season of pain, really deep pain, much of it being the sort of pain that takes longer than a short season to wrestle through to find long term healing.

And in this season of pain, I’m learning a whole lot about honesty.

You know the old phrase that states that God will never give you what you can handle? Yeah… I don’t believe that for a second. God definitely allows things into our life that are so much bigger and more than we can handle – because in those moments we see how desperately we need a God who is bigger than what we can handle.

I cannot tell you how many times I have cried out to God in the last few months pleading with Him in places of desperation. There were so many times that I told Him that this pain was too much for me. It was, which is where God stepped in and was so good. On days where all I wanted to do was lay on the ground and cry and weep – He gave me the strength to get dressed and go to class or work. Times in worship where I was just a puddle of tears, He sent words of encouragement to friends that reminded me that He actually loved me. As I walked through waters of grief, He placed me in a community that selflessly loved me and He gave me the tools that I needed to be able to fight back spiritually. As I’ve had some sudden losses, He has restored other areas of my life and relationships, giving me ample reason to praise God for His goodness.

I’ve learned dependence on the Holy Spirit in a very essential and practical way. Even in the moments of perceived silence where my pain was shouting louder than God’s voice and even in the times when intimacy with God scared me because it meant being vulnerable – He sustained me and carried me through. He stood bigger and stronger than the mess of this world.

As people have asked me how I’ve been lately, I’ve been struck by the need to be honest. Things have been hard. Really hard. But God has been so good. This isn’t meant to be some Christianese answer, it’s totally true. (Plus, it is a little better than emotionally vomiting on each person who asks me a simple question…)

This season is teaching me many things with the big themes all being honesty, humility, and perseverance. Let me let you in on a little secret – none of those things are fun and easy to learn. If we are being real here, they are lessons that suck.

Hannah Brencher wrote a blog post lately that stated, “do what it takes to make me your gold.” What a gutsy prayer. Somehow, that’s become the cry of my heart lately. I want to be gold, purified and perfected through the flames. Flames are the only way to purify gold. Trials are the way that we are refined and grown. We see in the flames what we are made of, which sometimes is comforting actually as you see how tight of a grip the Father has on you.

To wrap this all up, the words of Charles Spurgeon have been the best way to describe this season of pain – “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” Kiss the waves. Praise the Rock. For in the turmoil, He remains. Steady. Unchanging. Solid.