I have been prone to avoidance when it comes to pain. Well, more like ignoring, pretending it is not there, or giving enough space so I do not have to deal with it. When my parents got divorced, I was married and lived out of town, so I did not go home. Problem solved. Only problem not solved. It still existed. I had parents in two separate places that I no longer was connecting with, and a brother caught in the fray. If you are not present, it is hard to deal with the pain. It is hard to develop a new relationship in the circumstances that do exist. It is hard to figure out what your role is and what it isn’t.
Growing up, running away was a mode of dealing with things in my home. If a fight erupted, one parent was always prone to disappear, sometimes for hours, and eventually for days. When I was younger, I had been a fighter even when it was time to let it go, but eventually learned the lesson of running, or at least the desire to run. I did not follow the example physically, but emotionally I would check out.
Getting married, and having kids made me have to choose between following what I had been given as a legacy, or choosing a new path. God had redeemed me. I wanted His path. I wanted His ways. So I would lean into the pain, and many times fail and fumble through it, but as “they” say, love is a mess worth making. Thankfully, I have very gracious men in my life (a hubby and two sons) and we all learned, and still are learning this together.
The problem though, that has come to my attention as of late, is that as everyone gets older, the hurts feel a little deeper, and a little more personal. It is easy to want to lash out, or run, or avoid, depending on the situation. I was listening to a Christine Caine talk the other day, and in the way that only she can, her words pierced me. She was talking about the man on the mat that Jesus asked if he wanted to be healed, and he gave excuses instead of emphatically saying yes.
She challenged the leaders listening to ask themselves, “where in their lives they were still laying on the mat, or had laid back down?” I realized I was back on the mat in this area, wanting to curl up with the mat and hide from hurt. She then said the statement that has been echoing in my mind, “the degree to which you are willing to embrace the pain of recovery will determine the degree to which you will recover”. Do you want to be made well? Do you really want a new legacy?
This reminded me of something I read in a book a ways back by Danny Silk called Keep your Love on,
the question at stake is how you will react to the pain you experience in relationships. If you fall back on the classic fear-driven reactions, you will necessarily start treating people like rattlesnakes. You will either run away or try to control people so they won’t hurt you. The problem is that neither of these options will help you pursue and protect the goal of connection in a relationship.
I want to connect deeply with people, especially my family, which means I have to choose to lean in, and move towards the person who is hurting me, instead of avoiding them, or lashing out. (Disclaimer: This is not referring to abusive situations. This is in regards to everyday doing life with sinners kind of hurt.)
When my eyes are settled on God and His deep love for me, it helps me to love and lean in from that space. He comforts me and guides me. He promises to give wisdom so that I do not try to fix, control, or avoid the person. Lysa TerKeurst says it so well, “live from the abundant place that you are loved, and you won’t find yourself begging others for scraps of love.” While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Every time I read the account of the last supper, I am amazed at Jesus washing Judas’ feet, and lavishly loving and warning Peter in the middle of Peter’s higher self assessment. Jesus shows us what love looks like even in the hurt and the hard.
The only way to love well is to lean in first to God with all the hurts that come from living with other sin fallen humans, and allowing Him to comfort us and fill us to overflowing. Once I do this, although it can still be a hard and hurtful situation, God grants grace and mercy as I lean in to love that person who may be at the point of begging for scraps and needs to be reminded of God’s lavish, abundant love, the kind that “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” A love that “never fails.”
Love Never Fails
For those who might be interested the Christine Caine Talk is found here: https://catalystleader.com/watch/christine-caine-catalyst-atlanta-2018