I was listening to a song on a Christian station, and the singer said something about how God gave him life even though he didn't deserve it. I said to my husband, "I remember feeling the opposite. I wonder how many people have felt like, 'If I had never existed, then this pain would not exist, and maybe that would have been better.'"
The very next song was "This is Your Life" by Switchfoot. I took that as an affirmation from the Lord about the subject of my writing today. Pain of any kind is real. Sometimes we can't help but wonder, "What if none of this had happened? What if I had never occurred?" Let's talk about that for a minute. You're worth the car sickness I am enduring to write this while God put it on my heart. He often doesn't care about our physical comfort as much as He cares about the position of our souls. ;)
I have had the absolutely stunning privilege to have open conversations with inspiring and beautiful women who have read this blog. The common thread through all of their experiences is pain. A few women told me their stories with tears in their eyes, reliving the anguish of a nightmare-come-true, of feeling insufficient, of sky-screaming, time-transcendent pain. I listened to them thinking of how glad I was that they are alive, a breathing soul inside a body, an influence of tremendous value in the world. I feel that way about all of you, and God is so infinitely greater, and I can only imagine His smile at you - His creation, His beauty manifested in your body and soul. Can you feel that? Try.
I remember times of kneeling by my bed, sitting in a car, writing in my diary, while asking God directly or indirectly why He even made me. Why did I have to exist? Why this trial? Why this pain? What is the purpose of all of this? Sometimes, in the midst of pain, we can't see past its casted shadows. All we know is that it hurts, and we don't know when it will just...please...STOP.
If this has happened to you, or if this is you currently, consider this your digital and spiritual hug from me. You aren't alone, and none of your circumstances are hopeless. Whether you are hurting because you don't like what you see in the mirror, or because something happened that is out of your control, or you grew up without love and acceptance, or ANYthing ... You are here for a divine purpose. All of it will make sense in time. I'm not guaranteeing that any of it will make sense on this side of heaven, but someday when you ask why, the answer will unfold before you like butterfly wings, on which you will fly away into a breathing, living, sunset horizon.
There are always two ways to cope with pain: stuff it down like a quilt into a ziplock baggie, or face it head-on like a bird going against a freight train. Neither way is blissfully easy; in fact, both ways are more than we can handle on our own. So, there is a third way: lay it all at the feet of God in full-out, crazy-love surrender. Offer it up and admit: I CAN'T DO THIS ON MY OWN! Confess to Him that you are only human, and that He is God, and ask Him to heal your dripping wounds. Every time, in His way and in His perfect timing, He will pick you up and point you down the path toward healing. This doesn't mean it won't be painless; it will still hurt. But along the way glimmers of hope will dazzle like precious gems along the roadside. Your eyes will open and see in new ways. The Lord will even send friends with congruent pain to hold your hand as you walk.
I am not saying this from only my experiences, though of course those matter. I have known and met and listened to people tell stories of God's redeeming Love in their lives. He knows each of us intimately, whether we recognize it or not. He has an invitation that's been sitting in the mailbox of your heart since the moment you were conceived. Some of you have said yes and have experienced all of the hope I've been describing. Others have said yes, but have understandably struggled with full surrender (losing control is frightening!!! But so worth it, I promise!). Still some of you haven't RSVP'd to the invitation. If you say yes, and learn to worship Him while you're still in the depths of a valley, you will experience His fullness and will also get to experience why so many hit their knees on the mountaintops of life in awestruck, wonder-filled worship. You too will have your mountains blessed by God. You will stand with Him and "taste and see that the Lord is good."
Be bold and strong today. Say a prayer. Go outside and take a deep breath. You are a wondrous creation, and you will be delivered and victorious over all of your pain with God on your side. He promises.
"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."