Joy and Pain


It is easy to want to anesthetize darkness in an effort to not feel, but sedating feeling takes away both joy and pain.  There are so many things that are said to verbally sedate loss, and Christian’s have coined some of the most fantastic phrases; “she’s in a better place,” “you wouldn’t want them back.” But when you’re speaking of someone you love, of course you do.  To this day, there are not many holidays, major events, or people I have gotten to know that don’t make me wish I had my mother still here.  While I know that heaven is truly only a breath away the last seventeen years have felt like an eternity.  Sometimes there are things you never truly get over, and there are things that will never make sense this side of heaven.  Talking about my mom and losing her will still bring me to tears and still leave me wondering why; but even Christ asked “why?”

My life has never been the same.  It seems as though God takes the righteous and Billy Joel indifferently sang of God’s plan for the “good” in his 1977 hit.  I am regularly reminded of the hole that still exists in the fabric of my past from the shortened life my God-fearing mother lived.  I have been blessed to have so many wonderful people who have come into my life, and stayed in my life, since then but nothing can ever take that person’s place; there is always an empty seat.

It used to be thought that the Christian life was a series of mountains and valleys, but a better metaphor might be train tracks. You can have extreme joy and pain simultaneously, and it’s becomes a minute by minute battle of how to keep the train in motion when it seems as though the engine is breaking down.

Does God love us? Yes He does. Does it always feel loving? No it doesn’t. The same God who took my mom is as good as the same God who allowed someone else’s mom to live.  I don’t get it, but I can see how I’ve grown and I know God has taken the shards of my shattered life from that experience to work on a stain glassed window.  I don’t know what its going to end up looking like, but I do know the reason we are given the story of our lives. It is to share our pain rather than hide it, show our scars rather than hide them, so that those with open wounds know they will live to see a scar.  We are all shattered in some way, but enduring the pain of this life is well worth the experience of joy; we were built to feel and its only in feeling that we give God the chance to make a difference in this world.

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3 thoughts on “Joy and Pain

  1. It’s interesting that you talk about “sedating loss”. My wife and I were talking about that recently after my dog died. Believe me, in no way am I comparing the death of my dog to your mother. It just got a conversation started with us. I was reading this very short Kindle book about grieving the loss of a pet. While it dealt with pets, some of the principles (it was written by a minister) would very much apply to a human loss as well.

    In particular, our conversation was about how to talk to a child about death. In the book, the author was talking about how parents will sometimes say “Sparky ran away” rather than talk directly to children about death.

    As a society, we’ve grown so disconnected from death. Death is something that occurs in a hospital away from family and friends. It’s scary and foreign to us. Past generations died at home surrounded by family and loved ones. We’ve sterilized the entire process.

    I don’t have a grand point to make. I have just been thinking about this topic a lot as well lately. I appreciated your post.

    • Ryan, what book were you reading? I am not miffed at the comparison; those losses are similar. If you speak with pet owners, the loss of one is akin to the loss of any loved one (hence my interest in the text you read).

      I was forced at a young age to contend with death watching my mother take her last breath here on earth and imagine her first eternal breath so I was not privy to a culture that “sedates” loss. Not having children of my own, I haven’t given as much thought to how you would approach the discussion about death but I would venture to say euphemisms are not something that should be perpetuated in discussing loss. Really, it should only be reserved for context-specific situations until the actuality can be explained (in my opinion).

      I am glad you appreciated the post as I appreciate you taking the time to comment and remind me why it is I share some of my deepest thoughts. Additionally, it’s always nice to stay in touch with people from my past 🙂 Hope you and your family are well!

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