Wouldn’t you agree that we all live in a pleasure seeking, fast food society?? Yes or Yes??
People now more than ever are obsessed with NOT feeling things, especially anything uncomfortable and running to whatever substance or device or vice they can to make them feel better or escape their current reality.
Everyone wants to be successful, but they don’t want to go through the struggle and the pain to get there.
They want the testimony without the “test” part of it.
Unfortunately….sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s impossible.
Even in scripture the Lord promises us the opposite of the “easy life”:
In John 16:33 it says (emphasis mine):
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you WILL have many trials and sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome The world.”
So why do we all act so shocked or get so upset when things get hard or it doesn’t work out the way we want it to???
Part of Our Story
Cindy and I got married in the middle of both of us going through grad school. I wouldn’t recommend it, but that’s how it worked out for our schedule. And even though school wasn’t easy, marriage really wasn’t hard at all at the beginning.
We liked the same things, even down to colors and styles of everything from dishes to furniture and so it was really not a big deal doing life…at first.
Fast forward 9 years and we are working together in our business (after having started more than 7 businesses) and had just had our second baby.
Things were no longer easy and things were not so simple.
We struggled, HARD. During those next 2 years it was literally just a miracle and our friends and family supporting us that kept us together and not in a nasty divorce. By the world’s standards we should have ended it all that year…but by the grace of God we made it out.
We honestly thought at that point, “PHEW! We made it through our ‘hard thing’! We are good to go now!!”
Like we had earned a merit badge for struggle or something. Ohhhh, if it were only that easy.
Two years later, in 2014 we walked through the death of our son Evans. He was our third baby, second son and we were only able to have him in our arms for a couple hours before we had to say “Good-bye for now” to him.
Driving home from the hospital with an empty car seat and waking up next to your sobbing wife with an empty crib in your room is a pain I hope and pray none of you ever have to experience. It’s been almost 4 years now and even though it is easier some days to think about it and we can talk about it and we do a lot…it still hurts and it will for the rest of our lives.
And if our story stopped there I could sit here typing as an authority on walking through pain and finding your purpose in it….but then last year happened.
Last March, in 2017, I shattered my left femur while speaking at a conference in Florida due to a benign tumor that had grown on the inside of my leg and hollowed out the bone. So I spent the better part of the past year in a wheelchair.
And I have spent every day in some level or another of actual, physical PAIN.
From the actual fracture, to the surgery, to being in an immobilizer and wheelchair to physical therapy…I have an entirely new vantage point and empathy for people in both physical and emotional pain.
One of the things that people, most of them Christians, have said at some point to us in the past and have probably said to you in a tough situation is:
“God will never give you more than you can handle…”
THAT IS COMPLETE NONSENSE!!!! OF COURSE HE WILL!!!
That saying comes from the verse in 1 Corinthians that says He will never let you be TEMPTED beyond what you can bear….but He will most definitely give you more than you can handle every single day. Otherwise why would we need to rely on Him to take care of it for us and lead us through it?? If it was all in our power to handle…we wouldn’t need Him!
So I’ve been praying through and thinking about different things about pain that the Lord has shown me over the past couple years. Here’s 7 truths….not trying to be super cool “perfect number guy”…LOL…these are just the ones I come up with
1. Pain is an emotion
a) The nerves that transmit pain and that transmit tickling are very similar…they all are affected and are themselves emotional in nature. So what does that mean for us as we are walking through a painful situation or experience? It means that our mindset determines how truly painful our reality is. We get to CHOOSE our level of pain.
b) It also means that like seasons…it will change from day to day and almost minute by minute. My leg and foot usually is more painful first thing in the morning and gets way better as the day goes on…other pains are the opposite. So just keep walking it out and wait for some relief.
2. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away
a) After my injury and surgery my leg has built up a lot of scar tissue and I’ve lost a lot of function. Now, if I didn’t do anything with it and just ignored the tenderness and pain in my leg would the function come back?? Of course not! I’ve had to put myself through MORE pain in therapy to really free up this leg and give me back my function. Without the work I would have even more pain later but worse than that, I would not get back the function I had lost. It’s worth going through the pain of rehab to be able to play with my kids and go walking with my bride and not need a cane anymore. Your pain seems like it won’t be worth the effort to get through too…but I promise you it will be. Just be patient.
3. Your pain is YOUR pain
a) So many people that I meet and am blessed to talk with or minister to tell me their story and then somewhere through it they say something like, “Oh man, sorry for this” or they apologize to ME for what THEY are going through. Ummmm, WHAT?!? You don’t owe anyone an apology for your pain or for what you are feeling. You GET to feel those feelings and walk it out. It’s not always fun to have to walk people through their pain, but don’t minimize it either.
b) Your pain and struggle is intense and painful for YOU…no different than anyone else.
4. To HEAL it, you have to FEEL it
a) I coined this phrase a couple years ago talking about emotional trauma and pain and wouldn’t you know the very thing I teach many times becomes the thing the Lord uses to teach me right back in something I am walking through?!
b) How would I be able to work on healing my leg if I couldn’t tell my therapist how it felt or exactly where I was feeling weakness or pain or restriction? I couldn’t. You have to allow the Lord to walk you into your pain so that you can truly feel everything about it so that He can heal you from the inside out. Think of it as a splinter that gets caught way down in the skin. IF you don’t dig that slinter out it will fester and cause a swollen infection around it and no matter how hard you try to stay away from it…it WILL come to the surface. It’s just the way things are.
5. The worst of the pain is usually the quickest
a) The worst pain I go through in therapy is normally only there for a few seconds. It’s the same way whether it is in your marriage or another relationship, or in your business, or whatever. The worst parts of what you are having to walk through will for sure be over faster than the rest. There will still be things to heal from and old chronic issues you have to wrestle with…but the acute, fresh pain will be quick. So just bite down and get through it…
6. When you are in pain you need PEOPLE
a) I’m sure you know this, but in case you don’t….your community matters. It may not seem like it on the normal, day to day, normal things. But in the mess and in the middle of the hardest of days…it Matters A LOT.
b) You need people to walk with you and hold your arms up when you can’t. I had people in our community go with me to the funeral home to make arrangements for my son…that’s incredible. I had friends fly in and rent a car to drive me back to Texas from Florida after my injury. I had friends sit in the floor of my hospital room to make sure we were ok so that I could get some rest post surgery.
c) That’s community.
d) You need those people in your life that have been there who can tell you that everything will eventually be ok.
7. Pain reveals Purpose
a) In 2 Corinthians 1:4 it says: “He comforst us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
b) If you allow the Lord to teach you and grow you and mature you through the pain you are going through…you will get the opportunity in the future to look someone else in the eye who is walking through a similar situation and be able to love on them and tell them, “You will get through this and things will get better” and give them the encouragement they need to keep walking it out.
c) New opportunities to serve will come up and you will have open doors to speak into the lives of people you never would have been able to without the experiences you walked out.
d) I have an entirely new empathy, respect and soft spot for anyone in a wheelchair. I talk to almost everyone I see who is having to be in one and I encourage them and love on them and connect with them. Because let me tell you…being in a wheelchair is HARD. But you wouldn’t truly understand unless you had to be in one for months.
Last thing I’ll say before I turn you loose to go love on everyone around you is to not worry about or focus on “Getting over it” and instead focus on “Getting through it.” You know…I hope I never “Get over” my son and what we have experienced as a result of his short life and his passing. But I AM getting through it and because of Evans and his legacy and life I have had the passion and opportunity to pour into literally tens of thousands of people about the plan God has for their life and turning their painful experiences into opportunities for blessing. I’ll never “get over” this leg. I have a plate and 9 screws in this thing. But I am “getting through” it. I’m working hard at getting stronger and getting my function back so that I can be the best husband and father I can be and tell my story to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen.
You can do this…whatever it is.
It may not seem like it and it may seem like it’s never going to end.
Just hang in there and don’t you ever ever quit.