Merriam-Webster defines pain as a basic bodily sensation induced by a noxious stimulus, received by naked nerve endings, characterized by physical discomfort such as pricking, throbbing, or aching. Though this definition explains physical pain, isn’t it really the most relevant way to describe heartache? You have something/someone that hurts you, you take it in to process it, and you are left with a throbbing ache that is often crippling. For me, heartache at times as been far more debilitating than anything physical that has happened to me thus far.
This past weekend, I experienced pain that leveled me. The kind of pain that causes you to question all the faith you’ve had, all the changes you’ve made. The kind of pain where you feel like you’re suffocating with each breath you try to take. I think in recent months I’ve been incredibly strong and focused. I’ve been walking along, breathing in and out, and taking each day as it comes with grace and confidence. I’ve embraced the simple goodness and joys in life that are new with each day and I’ve managed my painful moments with clarity and strength. I’ve not succumbed to those moments, I’ve risen above them. Well, I am still human. I still have moments of failure or stumbling. Though I try hard, I can’t possibly escape moments of crippling pain even when I do my best to keep perspective. I don’t feel the need to go into detail about what happened, I just feel lead to write and to get some thoughts out of my head.
My favorite local musician, Robbie Gil (whom I actually saw over the weekend, too!), wrote a song called ‘paint by numbers’ and the lyrics are something that have floated in the background of life for me for some time. He says:
I'm gonna paint by numbers
Just put one foot in front of the other
And it's gonna hurt like hell for so long
I'll go ahead and pretend that I'm alright
Yeah, I'll go out and I'll fight the good fight
But one thing I know for sure is this that life goes on
Even after you're gone
I find what he says here to be a perfectly painted scenario of how you take each day to “put one foot in front of the other” and keep moving. I think it’s an ironic parallel that pain can be crippling or paralyzing which is the ultimate hindrance of moving forward. You don’t hear people say “it hurts so much I just want to keep moving”. No, you hear people say things like “it hurts so much I feel like collapsing”. In life, the only true constant is change. We’re guaranteed to be tested, challenged, put through the fire. We’re almost certain to encounter situations that bring pain in some form and it’s all about how we handle it and keep moving. I don’t believe we’re meant to stand still in life. I believe we are called to constantly forge ahead and allow pain to grow us.
For any of you that might be feeling what I am right now, I can only say this - have faith. Persevere. Look ahead, not behind. Move forward. Keep. Going. There is a season for every moment and a time to feel pain. There is a time to soar and a time to fall. Without the falling, you can never deeply appreciate the soaring and that is where reality and truth lay.
It’s going to take me a little time to find my way back to the path I’ve been walking. I know that and I moreso respect the process. Life isn’t about ignoring the pain, it’s about feeling it so that it moves you. I just hope that whoever out there that might be experiencing what I am can know that they are not alone. My brother wrote me after I shared my heavy heart with him yesterday and these words are helping my heartache today:
Seasons are different than patterns. Seasons are inevitable, just like in nature. Death, dryness and grayness leads to beauty, sunshine and new growth. And, so it goes.
Yes, indeed. And, so it goes.
And, so I continue to go as well down the path of healing even with all of its detours and stumbling blocks. Father god, may this be a season of your refining growth. May my pain challenge me to dig deep, even deeper than I already have, and stand tall.
This, too, shall pass.