For about the last three weeks, Michaela has been entering into this new time of being emotionally-charged and easily-frustrated. I know that this is only the beginning of what is likely to be a long road…I know because I went through it myself…I struggled for many years through this stage (and I have had periods of re-entering this stage…even recently, as an adult.) I remember the torture (specifically in middle school) and how everything just seemed so big…so amplified! If I was sad, I was devastated. If I was happy, it was deliriously so. If I was angry, then stand aside…because I’m about to destroy your world. I know I wasn’t any fun to be around…but however un-fun I was to be around, it was even more un-fun to be me. I could see all of this…I could recognize it all happening…but I couldn’t control it. I would see it all come unraveled in front of me as though I were mute and paralyzed and incapable of grabbing the ends of the unraveling rope that I desperately needed to hang on to. And while others were walking away with the rope, I couldn’t call out to them…I didn’t have words…and I didn’t understand why my voice was choked out of me. I felt helpless to get myself out of this pit but I was extremely aware of and able to identify those who were “like me”…those who were experiencing it too…and I gravitated toward them because I felt some kinship…some sort of community…because we all were choked out in our deafening silence and paralysis but we could see it…and we could see each other…and there was community in a way because we had the same struggle.
So, why did my talk about Michaela immediately turn into a talk about myself? Well, it’s not because I am just completely self-focused (although, sometimes I am.) It is because I am empathetic to where she is right now. I know her hurt and confusion. I understand her fears and her doubts. I recognize her need to be accepted and affirmed because I have lived it…for years on end I have lived it. Having endured this pain myself, I am called to walk through it with her whether hers goes on for years or merely weeks. See, people ask all the time “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” I think that sometimes, it is because when other people come around us and love us by bearing under our burdens with us, we are able to see God’s love more clearly. I think that in our brokenness, we get a glimpse of how things were supposed to be…and we might not see that if everything was ok. (A way to wrap your brain around it is this: when we were going through the poisoning, I hurt immensely every single day. It was hell for me. But since then, my health has improved a lot and my life has become much more comfortable. Occasionally, however, I have a bad and painful day…and while I don’t enjoy those days, I can not help but see the contrast and recognize how far God has brought me through this. The occasional bad day helps me to recognize and appreciate the good days and the personal and intentional work God has done in me.)
So, why am I leading you around on all of these tangents? Glad you asked. I think that we are called to minister from our experiences. I think that sometimes bad things happen to good people so that they can become even better people…so that they can become more like the God that they worship. I think when we have survived something, we are called to help others to be survivors…to help them reach toward God…to warn them not to allow themselves to be taken over by the darkness of their circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we should pretend to be happy and perfect and as though we aren’t in pain…but we shouldn’t waste the pain because it multiplies. It moves around and infects others and we can help them through it.
So, how are you doing with this? Do you have experience in your past that could speak to someone else’s pain? Have you learned lessons the hard way? Do you know people who are deeply hurting right now? I think you could be an instrument of love in God’s hands for those people. Maybe they need to hear that they aren’t alone or that when bad things happening to them, it does not indicate God’s withdrawal from them. Maybe they need to know that you love them even though they are battered and broken. What person in your life could be silently screaming for help and is not being heard? Do you have experience that allows you to feel what they are feeling? Could you be their community? Could you love them well because in your past, a bad thing happened to a good person?
I am praying today that we will look outside of ourselves and see opportunities to help others in areas where we have struggled. I am praying that we will be instruments of love and healing today. Much love friends,
P.S. I think this is why I became a middle-school teacher back when I was teaching…it is such an awkward and unsettling time and I have such a heart for people who are experiencing all of that self-doubt, discovery of self and others, and all that while trying to figure out where they fit in the world.