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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Faking The Pain (Part 2 of 4)

My friend lost two immediate family members last year.  Unexpectedly. 

She’s tired of faking the pain. 

She explained to me that she used to think life had its ups and downs.  High seasons and low seasons.  Good days and bad days. 

But she doesn’t think that anymore.

Instead, she sees life as two parallel train tracks:  Joy and Pain.

Sometimes, Pain is so strong and is running so fast that she can barely see Joy – it is miles and miles away.  Other times, Joy is charging full speed ahead and Pain trails behind.  She relishes these rare moments – when she is overwhelmed with Joy and goodness and it feels like Pain is defeated. 

But it doesn’t last. 

Most of the time, Joy and Pain run in tandem.  She can feel them both.  Side by side.  Which means that she experiences great Pain and immense Joy at the same time.   It actually works well.  She doesn’t have to fake it – or feel like a hypocrite – when someone asks her how she is doing at breakfast as she says, “Fine.”

And 30 minutes later she is a mess.

That’s how Joy and Pain are.  In fact, she even believes that they are supposed to run parallel.  That life works best and grace multiplies when Joy and Pain are in balance.  Pain allows us to experience Joy.  And Joy allows us to experience Pain.

This irony became clear to me last week when I celebrated my daughter’s 8th birthday.  I was in so much Pain that my insides were crying.  Like I could collapse at any moment.

But 10 young girls arrived on my doorstep for a sleepover.  And they brought me the sweetest Joy I have known in days.  Popcorn.  Movies.  Dancing.  Looking at stars.  Telling stories late into the evening.  Magical moments that brought me back to simpler days.

And the Pain in my stomach made the Joy even stronger.  Clearer.  Richer

Have you ever experienced the great irony of these two friends:  Joy and Pain?


Olivia Newport said...

I face issues that mean living with pain without expectation that it will ever disappear. Human existence comes with pain. God sent his son into this existence, which tells me that even pain can be redemptive. Seeing joy and pain in tandem is a great image of how that happens.

Amy Sullivan said...

I wrote a comment and then erased it because it sounded a smidge crazy, but in summary it was this: sometimes I fear big-time joy because I know big-time pain.

Michelle DeRusha@Graceful said...

Absolutely. When my mother-in-law died last year, I felt extreme pain and loss. But at the same time I felt joy, because God made himself so present to her and to our family during that difficult time.

Charming's Mama said...

Yes. You might think it odd, but at my mothers funeral there was a profound mixture of joy and pain felt in that room that it was palpable.

David Rupert said...

There is that innate knowledge, that somehow in the scheme of all eternity that our pain makes a difference - that it matters

Susan DiMickele said...

Pain does matter. As olivia says, it is redemptive. But like Amy I fear joy too because I fear the pain.

Bobbi said...

I'll admit that I've never thought about it this way before. I will be pondering it though. Thanks for something to chew on!

Connie@raise your eyes said...

Absolute and pain work in sunlight needs dark skies to make rainbows.

Often, GOD has brought healing in my devastating a mysterious elixir of agonizing tears and ridiculous laughter...and we learn to say,with Horatio Spafford, "It is well with my soul."

Jen said...

I've been thinking so much lately about finding the joy in the midst of pain, but I hadn't yet had the picture of them side by side. Thank you for this added perspective.

Laura said...

This seems like a profound truth that I have not given much thought to. Joy and pain...parallel? I've felt that--the feeling of bittersweet. How liberating to acknowledge this is real...and not have to fake it.


It is sweet of the Lord to insert joy into our pain. But sometimes the ups and downs of both are hard to handle. This is a thought provoking post.


Anna said...

Joy and pain... sides of the same coin, like the paradox of how by dying, we gain life. Pain has brought me closer to his lap, thus closer to knowing the source of love and joy.

Laura@OutnumberedMom said...

Do I have a story about that -- the day I watched a birth mother give her child into the hands of a mom who thought she'd never be one. What a roller coaster my heart was that day!

Are you reading One Thousand Gifts yet, Susan? It gets me to thinking about this and so much else... said...

We tend to want to think in "either/or" scenarios, but your friend is right - we can absolutely experience two things at once, both being equally true. The parallel tracks analogy is a good one. They both run through our lives, just at different speeds at different times. I think it takes a certain resilience to find room for joy while in the middle of a painful experience. This is a manifestation of spiritual strength.

Megan Willome said...

Rick Warren said the same thing. The year his wife faced breast cancer was the year his ministry really took off.