It comes in waves
It is one thing to be a caregiver. However, when you are a caregiver for a loved one, in my case, two loved ones-my son and husband, care giving takes on a whole new face. The face of pain. This pain is a constant companion, I didn't invite pain and pain didn't ask my permission to join me, it just did. The pain is there when I see my son struggle with muscle spasms or skin irritations all due to lack of mobility or when I see my husband struggle just to remember a word, or carry on a fluent conversation. This is painful. This pain comes in waves, and just as the waves of the ocean differ, so does this day to day pain. Some days the waves barely reach my feet, other days it might come up to my knees, I am shaken but I'm still standing. And there are those days where the wave is so big it swallows me from head to toe, leaving me under water, drowning and gasping for air, as I reach out with what I think may be my last breath, God pulls me out, stands me back up and gently nudges me along.
As a Christian woman I was taught that feeling pain was a sin. I was to be strong, courageous, a warrior. To feel or confess weakness was a sin. I know that when people call me strong and courageous they mean well, this is their way of encouraging me. However, to me, denial is a heavy burden. I am sad, I miss my husband. I feel like someone swooped in, stole my husband and left a very frail stranger in my midst, and I am to care for him. I do care for him, I love him, I know that he is hurting as much as I am.
So the question is: Is feeling pain a sin? There are many, many examples of people who love God, yet experience extreme pain, until God says "enough".
Sarah and Abraham, the pain of not being able to have a child.
Jacob, the pain of losing Joseph
Hannah, the pain of not being able to have a child
Ruth and Naomi, the pain of losing their husbands
Job, the pain of losing all of his children, his possessions, his health
Jesus, the pain he expressed in the garden before His crucifixion
"Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:36-46
As Jesus pondered the fact that He was about to be severely tortured and put to death caused Him extreme pain. "He told them, 'My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death,'" Yet through His pain he shows us the way we are to respond to pain:
He bowed his face to the ground and prayed to His Father
He was honest to Himself and to His Father, He wanted an escape. "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me." Oh, how many times have I cried out to God to make this stop!
He recognized that His Father's purpose for His suffering was for His good and the good of humanity and far superior than any human emotion and weakness. He submitted to His Father's will.
So when the waves of pain come my way and even knock me down from time to time, I will continue to cry out to God and remind myself that His will and purpose for all of this is for our good. He has a loving plan for all of this pain. I don't know how big your waves are, but remember this, God is good and He is with you. The same God that picks me up every day, will pick you up; and one day, after His purposes are accomplished in us, He will shout "enough!" and turn our sorrow into joy once again. This is my hope! This has brought me joy in the midst of pain, knowing that God is doing something and it is something good.
So as the new week begins, I say surfs up! It is time to ride some waves...