Community Carries Our Pain

ruins book_edited-1

“Often it seems that two-thirds of God’s song is the sound track to tragedy and ruin. And because the math doesn’t make sense to us, we either close up our hearts entirely or refuse to live in reality, hanging our theology on spiritual clichés. Or we write
God off as a liar, a cheat, or even nonexistent, the biggest scam of all time. But if we learn to live with the tension of God’s major and minor melody, we will find his beautiful refrain ringing out in our lives, which is his purpose for us—a song bigger than ours that identifies God alone.” Matt Bays: Finding God in the Ruins

During the difficulties of life, it is good to have others to spur us on and give advice. We can learn so much from one another.

I’ve talked about the value of mentoring and being mentored before. One of my life’s greatest blessings in this area is a sweet lady, Joanne. She was my mentor during high school. A few of us would meet her at a restaurant downtown and she would pour into us. Honestly, I can’t remember one specific thing we talked about off the top of my head, but I do remember wanting to model her character, her faith, and her depth of insight. She is one of those people that in her presence everything just feels like it’s going to be okay.

Our paths don’t cross often anymore, but when they do, I always know she will intently listen to me. During a recent interaction she recommended a book to me, but she didn’t stop there. She went out and bought me the book and gave it to me with a lovely card. Joanne has not been untouched by life’s struggles. What a gift it is when someone you admire is willing to say that life is hard, doubt is real, but God is ultimately good. I look forward to reading all of Finding God in the Ruins.

Today I spoke with Joshua’s teacher. I had previously asked her to keep an eye on him as our family goes through this clinical trial and we experience ups and downs. (Important note: if there is any kind of upheaval in your home, let your kids’ teachers know. They can often act out in school in unusual ways during this time and it’s good to give a teacher a heads-up. As a teacher, I found out too often after the fact about a divorce, illness, death, etc.). She recommended a book to me called Ida B, about a girl whose mother gets cancer and she becomes angry with many of the changes that happen in the family as a result. I think we’ll be reading that together to help process some feelings.

ida b

I’ve read many blogs about what not to say to someone going through a difficult time. Individuals have complained about well-intentioned suggestions for treatment for illnesses and unsolicited advice. In my experience, it is the community that surrounds me and their advice, thoughts, and prayers that help me to see God’s goodness to me. I would rather err on the side of saying the wrong thing, I guess, than saying nothing at all. I realize others might not agree.

Author Mary DeMuth wrote a memoir called Thin Places. In her words, “A thin place is a place where you experience the presence of God, where the veil between heaven and earth is thin.” I feel like it is his people who help me peel back the layers and see God’s faithfulness to me in a way I wouldn’t otherwise.

Life will present many reasons to doubt God and his goodness. I like this quote I read recently on Facebook by Brené Brown: “What’s spectacular about my life today, at forty-seven, is finally realizing that the prime of our lives is not about answers – it starts when we finally allow ourselves to soften into the mysteries and live in the questions.” What a joy to have people come alongside us in the midst of the mysteries of this life.

If there is someone in your life having a hard time right now, take a moment to send a card, a gift, or just let them know you are praying for them. Small acts of kindness can make all the difference!




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