Here’s the thing about pain: it’s deathlike.
Pain has a way of feeling like it might kill us, and that’s the last thing we want, so we look away and bury it and ignore how it stings. We opt to go numb. Numb feels safe—honorable, even. Got some pain under the surface, but you carry on like it’s all good? Good. Look at you, you tough cookie.
I’ve always thought I had to tough it out, to keep flashing the oversized smile people love to see me wearing. Sure, this stuff is far from fun, but it’s not that bad, right? Other people carry heavier loads, sharper piercing pain, more traumatic trauma.
The good girl in me knows exactly how to manage this junk, and no one has to know what happens behind dead-bolted doors; no one will see the panic attacks on bathroom floors; no one will see the sleepless nights or the days I forget to eat or the miles I run obsessively to tamp down the rising anxiety.
This good girl is a killer public relations director; she’s a pro at protecting the status quo and the people who tell her this is normal; she’s a rockstar who spins a story with the best of them.
But the good girl is so busy surviving that she can’t see the truth of what’s being swept under the rug.
Until the pain screams from the inside out. Until the ship wrecks. Until that girl finally has no other choice but to admit she’s drowning—even if it’s only a whisper, a scared admission that yeah, there’s wreckage here. Yeah, there’s no hiding this. This pain, yeah, it’s pulling me under . . .
And when that good girl—who’d rather die at her post than accept a mess—finally stops telling the good-sounding story and takes off that forever-smiling mask to face the real and raw pain, she discovers the shock and beauty of it all. That in going down with the shipwreck, in staring straight at the pain that threatens to kill, she wakes up at last.
She feels it all—the hollow nausea, the loss of appetite, the body-wracking sobs, the hounding anxiety, the hope-suffocating depression. With each punch and pang, there’s a breath of grace. Because she’s numb no more. Punches and pangs are felt only by living things, and she’s very much alive now.
That’s the other curious thing about pain: when we admit its reality and walk through it, not around it, and ask Jesus to comfort us in it, we discover healing.
It’s a process, walking with the Healer. But He’s the One who breathes life into death.
That’s where I am these days, clinging to a plank in the middle of a shipwreck, mask off, discovering the wild mingling of grief and joy; death and life; pain and healing.
Jesus is there, in that terrifying place of pain, carrying you and your wounds and your broken places. Somehow, in His gentle kind of way, there’s new life to be found within those swelling waves.