The Pain I can Control

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With an array of stunning colors exploding from the small of her wrist to the top of her shoulder I was left staring at a random stranger’s arm in the grocery store.  

Vivid blues, met a stunning red sunset, with the peak of a storm followed by a grey outbreak of a lightning blaze.  After gawking for far too long, she met my eyes and silently asked me, why are you staring at me?

Breaking the uncomfortable silence, I proclaimed, “I love your ink.”  

A smile overtook her once strained face and then she responded, “why thank you.”

The tension subsides and all that is left is two middle-aged women in the produce department chuckling.  I proceeded, “tell me the story of your tattoo.”

She glistened with pride and love as she drifted off in a deeply moving memory.  

“It is the story of me, my life, my loss, and the fact that I eventually will prevail, thanks to God’s grace.”

Amen, sister.  

“Indeed, you will.”  Is all I had to say.

Engaged to the point I didn’t even realize there were annoyed people trying to get by us en route to the perfect broccoli head, we moved out of the way of the busy supermarket.

She continued, “I live with chronic pain.  Every day I ache all over no matter what medicine I am given, it doesn’t touch the pain.”

I’m brought to my knees by her words, as I have experienced pain in my life, but not to that degree.  Not like the nagging, anticipating, debilitating torturous pain she had spoken of.  

I pointed to the inner part of her upper arm, where a bright orange and yellow monarch butterfly transcend time, and yes, pain.  “I love this.”  I touched the butterfly and goosebumps immediately encompassed my entire body.  “Yet, I’ve heard that this part is the most painful to tattoo.  My husband has a full sleeve and he said that the underarm is the most painful.”  I smiled at her and stared into her stunning green-blue eyes.

“I don’t mind because it is a pain that I can control.”  Her magnificent glance drifted as her hand reached the inner part of her arm where the butterfly was in flight.  “My pain I didn’t choose.  But the burning of the tattoo gun is something that produces beauty when it’s all said and done.  And that I control.”

My chance meeting with this woman greeted me with a revelation that truly shook me to my core.  Although I do not live with chronic physical pain, I do live with chronic emotional agony, that haunts me from my past.

Dreams when I’m sleeping often leave me shaking, terrified, and restless.  
They identify as a horror film replaying in my mind as my body tries to sleep.  Vivid recreations of hands on me and lashes carried out that I did not deserve, yet was made to believe that I did play out.  There are times I wake up in the morning depleted never wanting to fall into “Dreamland” again for fear of what nightmare may await me.  So in my waking hours, it seems fitting to give myself what I think I deserve to be punished for.  Yes, I inflict pain on myself, much like the burning of the tattoo gun, I try to engrave on my being a picture of something that can make sense of it all.  A pain, that I, in fact, can control.

But why do we do this to ourselves?

 

  • We cut our own flesh with a razor blade
  • Force a finger down our throats to vomit up the food we just ate
  • We drink too much
  • Take drugs
  • We lie, steal, and cheat
  • Spend money we don’t have
  • We smoke
  • Starve our bodies of food in fear we are fat
  • We blow up in anger when a trigger point is pushed
  • Commit adultery
  • We run ourselves ragged trying to prove that we are in fact good enough

 

We are broken inside so the immediate response is to inflict on our bodies and minds, the pain we think we can control.  

In my personal journey, I know this coping mechanism all too well.  It is hard to give myself love and grace when I fail daily because, in the past, the pain was given when I “messed up.” It feels all too ordinary to punch myself in the face, instead of accepting that as a human I will fail, and God loves me NO MATTER WHAT.  He doesn’t desire pain for me, all he wants is me.

All God wants is all of us, encompassing our turmoil and the spinning thoughts of failure that blare through our hearts and minds.  As a matter of fact, He actually tells us that He will take those failures and pain from us and turn it into Gold.  He will release the burden of it all, and allow us to transform into the monarch that we were predestined to become, what He designed in His image is ours for the taking. But we have accepted His healing principle into our hearts, memories, and inner child.  

Broken, bleeding, depleted, drugged, drunk, too fat, too skinny, He doesn’t care.  He says in His Word that He has written our names in the palm of His hand and calls us His.  

God screams that He wants our pain, and He will control it.  All He wants for us is to accept His grace, love, and forgiveness.  If we are able to wrap our minds around that fact we will be able to stretch our butterfly wings out and fly as far into the sunset that we dream of.  

For, in inflicting a self-deprecating way of dealing with our demons, we push the love of Jesus further and further away, as the enemy perpetuates our painful memories, and tries to belittle our self-worth.  If we hurt our bodies and minds, due to past trauma, then the serpent wins and God’s love is left at the back door.

Fight the good fight, accept love, and give the pain you cannot control to our God who begs us to release it all into the black of night, for He is willing to take it on so we don’t have to.  That my friends is the gift of true and unconditional love.

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The Parable of the Parrot

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I am about to share with you something that will probably shock you to your core.  Words that have been spoken to me since I can recall until now are that I, in fact, talk too much.  I know, it is a major confession.  Yet, in the midst of a really great church service today, Pastor Kevin spoke on what I seem to excel at…words.  A power exists within the linguistic ability to build up or destroy.  Our inner moral code is formulated with what comes out of our mouths and what can be detrimental the words we tell ourselves that believe we truly are.

Absorbing every word of our beloved pastor had to share on the power of words I both felt great appreciation for my gift, yet a deep burden.  I have both the gift of spoken and written word…what a responsibility!  My heartbeat slowed, my air flow swallowed as I gasped in the great knowledge of what God has called for me in this life.  Like a sword that is in your hands and you can either lift up or chastise.  You have that much power.  Yet, we all do.  The wordsmith isn’t the only one held accountable to such a duty.  We all are.

I almost didn’t go to church today.  After battling on Saturday a day of depression that I haven’t had to face in a while, the kind where I could barely get myself out of bed.  Saturday, the only thing I wanted to do was sleep, find some kind of peace in nonexistence.  Faces danced in my mind of my children, my blessings, my God who has always been faithful, and my husband, my dear wonderful blessing of a husband who loves me so…and even so…I wanted to disappear.  An imbalance in the brain, circumstantial, environmental, abusive past, all things prelude to such an illness.  The words of others telling me I’m weak to not trust God for healing blared in my silence as I tried to do anything but sleep.  In that moment, that precipice of time, His hand reached down and caressed my hair like my mom used to do when I was sick.   He said it wasn’t my faith in His ability to heal me that was lacking, it was my trust in Him that He hasn’t healed me is what I needed to cling to. He gave me a vision of why I’m where I am.  Sometimes we aren’t healed.  People die of diseases that they don’t deserve, and more so, they live with illness’s that holds them back from the better part of themselves because of a purpose.  God told me my purpose was clear.  And it is my words.

I drifted off to sleep, thankfully.  My dreamland brought me to a place where I was speaking in front of a group of young women.  All suffering from…depression.  A door opened and I walked through it, even though in my dream I could barely keep my head up, my eyes open and my body afloat.  What I saw were sixty, maybe eighty eyes on me begging for hope, for an answer.  For enlightenment.  Digging deep into my life experience, pain, torture, lack of want to go on, I walked on the stage and told my story.

Tears fell.

Knees buckled.

Women’s lives were somehow touched.  Because of my pain, not my immediate healing.  My journey through the perils of grief, abandonment, abuse, loss, addiction, fear, love, joy, birth, re birth, loss, loss, loss lives were forever touched….I woke up with a gasp of air that filled me full and left me okay with not being healed today.  For healing comes in so many different forums.  Sometimes our closure to the vice that hunts us down is simply helping others who are walking in the shoes we had to navigate tough territory in.

I almost didn’t go to church today because I’m battling a big go at depression.  Somehow, I got up, dressed, put some makeup on so I wouldn’t scare anyone, and gathered my family to Journey Church.  Walking into the place where it is easy to find and experience God my husband and I ran into Pastor Kevin.  I told him, “I’m so excited about this service.”  He smiled, humbly as he always does, and placed a gentle hand on my shoulder.  In that moment I wondered if he knew if I almost didn’t come.

Words flowed, from a wordsmith to a wordsmith.  Taking notes as fast as I could process I realized that my polarity is huge when it comes to my words.  Sure, I write books, blogs, speak, but I am so very capable of the polar.

I have gossiped.  Slandered.  Cussed. Been blasphemous.  I have. Usually depending on my polarity or the reach of where I chose to hang my hat.  Folks I surround myself with, words I acquire into my vocabulary.  They can be either earth shattering beautiful, or God-forsakenly hurtful.  

Colorful and smart the parrot knows this better than any of us.  Mimicking who is dancing in front of her, she speaks the words, repeats the actions because it is all she knows.  Yet, we as followers of Christ know that we chose who we polarize ourselves to.  When we surround ourselves in darkness we speak….way more crass than we would in the light.

In the sunshine, we encourage, build up, bring peace and open the door of opportunity of God to move.

I have been the enemy’s parrot.  Speaking ill words of people who have done me wrong, spreading gossip, true or untrue, somehow giving me a high that is straight from the pit of hell.

 I have been God’s parrot.  Shouting from the mountain tops His love, promise, hope even in the face of depression, abandonment and abuse.

The takeaway and the burden of my heart this week is that when we speak kindly, even against those who we feel don’t deserve it God will shine, those around us will be blessed, and we will be at ease. No, we aren’t Jesus.  We can’t be, but we can try.  It is our calling to Fight so hard to act as He did, and strive to be the better part of us that He is in the process of formulating.

Words are monumental and in ways we are all parrots, repeating our surroundings and giving what we are given.  Chose light, love, joy, freedom, and repeat.

 Repeat.  Repeat Love.