Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Not what you expected

Pain during the holidays. 

It's pretty common from what I've observed, these past forty years, though nobody would seek it out intentionally and add it onto their already over-filled life plates.  It's one of those things that can come in all kinds of forms and show up regularly like clock-work, or out of the blue in a way that takes your breath away.  It can come from relationships, plans turned sideways, jobs lost, finances in a tangle, or betrayals of many kinds.  It can come from expectations not met or no will to have expectations period, based on pains of the past.  It can hit you so hard that you sink into a depression, or make you want to run from all social obligations.  Pain during the holidays can load your shoulders down so that you can't focus on the Reason for the Season and you end up missing the entire point while you're left with your head down, sorting details "just to get through."  

I haven't gotten to Christmas yet but our small, extended family is dealing with the pain of Alzheimers.  It's hard to see that blinking at me, in black and white.  If I could, I would single-handedly banish it from the planet, I hate it SO MUCH.  I want my old daddy back and I don't want to see my mama hurting and being strong for all of us.  I want life to be what I expected it to be and go how I expected it to go... not this... this crappy new plan. The truth is, it's often... not what we expected. Pain comes in many shapes and sizes, and sadly, we can all relate. 

It's so easy to get caught up in life, thinking about what "we're going to do" and "where we're going to go" and then that awful driver, pain, slams his car into you from the side, or rear-ends you when you're not looking and suddenly you're hurting and dealing with the extensive damage. The other day, I heard a friend say, "I just want to get through the holidays already."  Pain was taking it's toll on her heart and the holidays ended up being the thing on the plate that was overwhelming her, when really, it was the pain itself that was causing her overwhelmed state of mind.

It made me pause and wonder.... what if... we're supposed to let pain push us toward God and into His arms during this chaotic season.  What if we actually did that?  What if we spent more time than normal talking to Him, thanking Him for all things good and bad, laying our troubles at His feet.  Would our holiday have peace, even in a sea of questions and "not what we expected's?"  If nothing else, it wouldn't hurt, right?  Press in.

The truth is this; God never wastes our pain- He promises that He doesn't.  He holds every tear, knows every hair on our heads and loves us unconditionally in spite of the pain we ourselves have caused!  He allows the hard stuff for His reasons, not because He is an awful God who loves it when we suffer. Especially at Christmastime.  We are always a part of His grand plan, a thread woven into a far bigger, more beautiful picture and the only part we can see are the tangles on the backside of the tapestry we're being worked into.  I said this on Instagram last night... "Staying soft takes work but it doesn't drain us the way bitterness does and in the end, it is always worth it!  I loved the verse Lamentations 3:22-24 in the Message version- "God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up.  They're created new every morning. How great is your faithfulness!  I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left."  

I don't know where you're at in life.  Maybe you're blissfully pain-free and all your details are lining up just how you expected them to.  But... if... just maybe, you're in the boat alongside me, and it's not what you expected, let's make a pact, you and I.  Let's press IN.  Let's press deeper than we ever have.  Let's lay it ALL down at His feet and let Him do as He wants with us and within us.  Someone hurt you?  Pray for God's blessing over their life right now.  Even if you have to grit your teeth to get the words out. Something went sideways on you? Thank God for it right now, even if your words don't match the feelings in your aching heart right this moment... ask Him to change the feelings.  He has always done that for me when I've asked... sometimes it's taken a little time, but He has always been faithful.

Let's press in to HIM, and away from the pain.  We've got this, because He's got us. 

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  1. This post hits so hard to home for me right now! I've been dealing with some new pain recently and it does make it harder to enjoy the fun times and holidays that are normally so happy and peaceful. Thank you for these words they have truly helped me this morning!

  2. Amen, Sasha. It is a tough season for many of us. I'm dealing with all types of pain right now. Losing two precious cats within two days of each other, dealing with elderly relatives who need me & my own physical pain which prevents me from being there for everyone. Still, I celebrate this season & all the days leading up to to Christmas. Bit by bit, I try to be still & I breathe in all the goodness & I exhale all of the pain & heartache. Life is glorious & this time of year brings that reality to the forefront. Now, more than ever, I pray for all of us. We're all in this together. xo

  3. Amen.
    Yes, I believe that pain is for that purpose - to push us to our loving Heavenly Father.
    I will keep your family in my prayers.

  4. praying for you guys my friend my sweet sweet friend

  5. So sorry to hear about your pappa...saying prayers for you and your family. ♥

  6. I send you all my love ,may GOD and his LIGHT be always in your family
    Lots of LOVE

  7. My father died from alzheimers disease on Christmas Day in 1991. He was in his mid 60's. I moved here to help my mom all those years ago. I took a year off from teaching and my oldest daughter (5 at the time), my wonderful husband (big help/neuropsychologist), and I just did the best we could to help my mom. Just love on her and be there for him. It's tough. You're in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. Such wise words for all those who suffer. That disease hits so hard on everyone in its midst. I know. I am praying for your family and I know with your faith and strength (even though you may not remember it's there some days) you will navigate the path before you well.

  9. Beautifully said and so true! I just love your soft voice in your writing and your powerful message. ~hugs~

  10. Beautifully said and so true! I just love your soft voice in your writing and your powerful message. ~hugs~

  11. Beautifully written Sasha. Just before Thanksgiving my mom and I found out from my dad's doctor that they have given him a year to live. The holidays have been very difficult knowing that this will probably be the last we spend as a family. I am an only child which makes it even harder. Even though I am 43, it still is not easy. I just try to cherish each day. And I totally agree with what you said about pain pushing us closer to God. Love and prayer to you sweetie!

  12. I'm so sorry, and I can relate as well. Praying for you.

  13. So sorry for your sadness. I lost my Momma last year to the same thing. It is not an easy road for anyone concerned, and it will change you forever. I am grateful that she lived almost 90 years before being severely affected. And now she is finally at peace. That gets me through.
    It will strengthen your family in ways you can't imagine. God be with you all.

  14. Oh sweet friend,
    I dealt with this with my dad. He's been gone for 3 years now. It was a hard road. I blogged about it as a stress reliever. I'm praying for you because it gets so hard. It's not a straight decline. It zigs and zags. Leaning on God's promises and trusting Him made such an unbearable time do-able. Sending you a big hug. Xo