When Life Hurts


“Therefore, I will not restrain my mouth;

I will speak in the anguish of my spirit,

I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”

Job 7:11 (NASB)

I’ve always liked the book of Job.  I think it goes along with my melancholy spirit.  I can identify with the man.  That’s why, when I came across this verse the other day, I immediately felt I had found a kindred spirit.

You see, I’ve spent the better part of the last 14 years complaining in the bitterness of my soul.  Life has been hard.  It has not gone the way I had hoped or planned.  It has pressed me near to breaking point, and it has brought me to my knees (flat on my face actually).  I have cried out in anguish.  I have stormed about in anger.  I have nearly gone mad from frustration.  Through it all, I have learned that I am not the person I thought I was.  I do not have the patience I thought I had.  I am not as kind as I would have hoped.  I can be downright mean and nasty, and I have learned to hate myself at times for it.  It’s funny how life can do that to you… force you to see the not-so-good side of yourself.

Sometimes our hearts are so heavy, we can’t help but complain.  The misery we feel within is so intense that it boils inside like a live volcano that eventually explodes, producing pyroclastic lava flows that cause great damage to everything in their path.

I’m sad to say that I’ve burned quite a few people with my magma of misery.  I knew things were heating up, and I knew I would eventually blow, but I had no idea how to stop what was happening beneath the surface.  I felt like I was stuck in a life I had no control over.  I felt like things happened TO me, and I was powerless to change them.  Eventually, when you feel that way long enough, you give up hope.  You look ahead to the next portion of your life and can’t wait until the good LORD calls you home.  I know, it sounds grim; but that truly is the way you feel when you keep getting knocked down.  I remember explaining it to someone once like this:  “I feel like I have two broken arms and two broken legs, and my trainer is telling me, ‘Get back into that ring and FIGHT!'”  I had nothing left with which to fight.  I was down.

I am happy to report that I didn’t stay there.  I sought help.  God placed some wonderful counselors in my path who taught me that what I was feeling was real.  I had a lot on my plate.  (Sometime, in another post, I’ll tell you a bit more about that.)  Suffice it to say, I remember telling my first counselor, “I feel like one of those plate spinners in the circus.  I keep trying to keep all my plates spinning; but by the time I get to the last one, I can’t make it back to keep the rest going.  Plates are crashing everywhere.”  He helped me to see that I wasn’t crazy like I thought I was.  I just had way too much to handle and no one to help me.

A few years later, after my husband lost his job and moved halfway across the country to take a new one, I once again found myself face to face with despair.  I was looking at having to move back to a place that was very traumatic for me.  I felt like I had no options.  Thus began my descent into major depression.  Once again, God placed a wonderful counselor in my path who suggested I go to one of the Meier Clinics for treatment.  It was the best thing that ever happened to me, because that was the beginning of my journey out of the pit of despair.  The first and most important thing I learned there was that I DO have choices.  We all do.  We think we don’t, but that is not true.

Sometimes we feel unworthy, like our opinion doesn’t matter, or like our needs aren’t important.  I’m here to tell you they are.  Years of squelching my needs to satisfy the needs of my family, and not getting my needs met in return, was a recipe for disaster.  We all have needs.  God designed us that way.  His intent was that we would work together in relationship to mutually meet one another’s needs.  We can’t always give, and we can’t always take.  It’s a two-way street.  A dear lady from the church where my husband and I met explained it to me this way, “As women, we are always meeting other people’s needs.  It is like we hold a big bushel basket full of apples, and we go through life handing out our apples.  If we don’t stop every now and again to replenish our basket, we will run out of apples.”  I ran out of apples a long, long time ago; and I didn’t know how to replenish my basket.

I’ve since learned many ways to do so.  Probably first and foremost is learning how to establish boundaries (and not feel guilty about having them).  I’ve learned to not feel guilty (oh… there’s that word again!) about taking time out for me.  I might do one of the following:

  • read a book for PLEASURE (not a self-help book that requires me to underline or highlight… seriously, most of what I read means there is a pen in the book);
  • go for a 3o-minute walk while tuning into nature (smile at the sun, laugh in delight at the sight of a bluebird, drop my mouth in awe at the sight of an eagle soaring overhead);
  • call a friend to go to lunch (I love to eat!);
  • light a few candles, put on some soft jazz, grab that pleasure book, and soak in a hot tub;
  • watch one of my favorite movies;
  • reminisce over some wonderful people whom God has placed in my path who have filled my life with love;
  • eat chocolate (dark, so it’s healthy);
  • crank my stereo and sing to my heart’s content;
  • write an entry for my blog (and hope someone reads it).

The interesting thing is that, through all the pain, God has been there picking me up.  He has given me the insight to know that it has not all been in vain.  Through it all, He has been teaching me and molding me and transforming me into the person He wants me to become.  I know that one day I will be able to look back and see how it all makes perfect sense as to why each of those hurts was there.  There was a bigger purpose.  Perhaps it has to do with being a beacon of light to lonely, hurting, brokenhearted people who, because of poor choices, find themselves in codependent relationships over which they feel they have no control.  That is something I can REALLY relate to!

How about you?  How do you replenish your basket?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

Walking in His grace…

Lori Lynn

Life can sure hurt, LORD.  Sometimes we don’t know how much more we can take.  When we reach that place, help us to hang on to You and just trust.  Trust that You are in control, and you won’t let us be obliterated by it.  Help us to realize that Satan wants us to fail, and he is doing everything in his power to keep us from living in the joy and freedom you want us to be living in.  Are we going to let him WIN?  Give us all the courage and strength to answer with a resounding, “NO!”, and teach us to see beyond the hurt to  the blessing on the other side.

What Happened


Well, if you read my last post, you probably think I am happily ensconced in Massachusetts continuing to thrive in my obedience to the LORD.  Unfortunately, that isn’t what happened…

 

 Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?

Matthew 14:30:31 (MSG)

 

In June 2009, I helped my husband move out to Massachusetts.  The plan was that the kids and I would join him at the end of the summer, after our house sold.   I had my eyes on Jesus.  I was walking on water.

Problem #1

The house didn’t sell.

It was the summer the housing market turned sour.  Prices plummeted.  Houses for sale were a dime a dozen, and it was a buyer’s market.  Our house had been on the market since February.  People who viewed our home loved it, but there was always one little thing they didn’t like… the neighbor could see into the kitchen, the blinds didn’t keep out enough light, the yard was too small…

By the time school started and our house still hadn’t sold, I was in a different place emotionally.  There were many outside factors contributing to this, but suffice it to say that I no longer had my eyes on Jesus.  I was looking at the waves crashing around me, and I was beginning to sink.  I knew in my heart that I could not move.  Massachusetts represented so many negative things to me.  It wasn’t that Massachusetts itself was bad (I actually have some lovely memories associated with Massachusetts); it’s that the life I had there as a young mother with three small special-needs children, no family nearby, and a husband who worked all the time was anything but rewarding.  I was so overwhelmed, and I felt so alone.  The idea of going back there was traumatic.

Problem #2

I spiraled into depression.

My depression turned out to be a blessing.  It forced me to seek outpatient treatment at a Meier Clinic.  Those three weeks of treatment were life changing.  The first thing I learned was that EVERYONE struggles with SOMETHING.  I was not alone.  I was able to acknowledge a pattern of victim thinking which, in turn, opened my eyes to how the Enemy likes to play with our minds by feeding us lies.  It reinforced in my mind that we do indeed have choices in life.  We can choose to let our circumstances control us (passively sitting back and thinking there is absolutely nothing we can do about them), or we can choose to control our circumstances by changing our perspective on them.  I kind of liken it to a person who is severely myopic putting on their glasses and getting a fresh view.  Without their glasses, everything is very distorted; nothing makes sense.  When they put their glasses on, objects become clearer; and it is easier to focus on reality.

I’m still not excited about moving back to a place that holds so many difficult memories; but when I came back from the Meier Clinic (with my glasses on), I started to view things differently.  I no longer felt like I had to let life happen TO me.  I told my husband on one of his visits home that I did not want to put our house on the market that next spring.  I simply was not yet at a place (emotionally) where I could move, and I wanted my son to finish out his 8th-grade year at the parochial school he attended.  I then applied to graduate school in Boston.  I figured if I had to move out there, I needed something to give me a sense of purpose.  I was blessed enough to get accepted into the program, and I was doubly blessed that the college granted me a deferral until next fall allowing me time to get our house back on the market and, hopefully, sold.

I wonder, at times, if my acceptance into grad school isn’t part of the reason God is moving us back to Massachusetts.  I had just been accepted into the program the year before my husband and I got married but had to quit after we got married due to lack of finances.  I see it as God giving me a second chance to finish something I should have finished a long time ago.  I also see it as an opportunity to learn a new skill that will allow me to make a difference on God’s Kingdom Calendar.  He gave me a voice so I could speak, not shrivel up into a corner like a wilted flower and die.  Through His watering of grace and mercy, I am slowly coming back to life.  With His tender loving care, I am hoping to bloom wherever I am planted.

Can you relate?  Have you started out in obedience to the LORD only to find you’ve been blindsided in some way?  Did you fall into victim thinking or fall into the arms of Jesus?

Lori Lynn

Help me keep my eyes on You, Jesus.  When life gets too rough, reach out Your hand and grab me until I regain my strength in You.  Water me daily with Your Word, tend my wounded soul, and replant me where I can glorify You.  Amen.