Being present in the pain©

Some days the hours are long and hard on this earth.  It’s difficult enough to walk them yourself, it’s much harder to watch your offspring.  My son is walking through things he never thought he’d face in his life. The details aren’t important to state here.  It’s how his life teaches me that brings me to write.

A few nights back the texts started rolling in.  His heart was spilling out through the words that flowed. The pain of this broken world he faced was coming out like pus from an infected wound.  It wasn’t pretty, it was raw and real.  He needed a safe place to let it flow. He chose me.

It wasn’t long into the conversation that I began to start with “helpful” responses.  Truth is I didn’t know what to do with the poison sin had left.  It was way above me.  I felt the need to have some answers to give to him to move him towards life.  I offered one word after another.

The texts suddenly stopped.  “talk to me” I said. “Mom, I just need you to be here with me, to let me express what’s pinned up inside me.”  “I just need you to listen.”   He wanted to be safe to let it all out. I heard him loud and clear.

I know the avenue only too well.  It has been my road.  Hard things have hit my life in these last few years.  So much has been stuck inside me that I didn’t even know.  It often comes out through the rantings.  It is the pus that has gathered infecting my life from the years of neglected pain.

When I was a child I had boils.  On rare occasions I was taken to the doctor to have them surgically lanced.  If you’ve never had a boil you won’t know the pain that occurs.  The last thing you want is anything touching it, much less a sharp, pointed needle.  In those moments when the pain is imminent the presence of another truly makes the difference.  A hand held, a back rubbed, a listening ear, a caring, soothing word, all acts of love that make a difference.

In the moments of my storms it’s what I have needed most.  Because it is love that opens the door for the buried pain to spill out.

It is what my son needs too.  Truth is it’s what we all need.

What is it that makes me feel the burden to have the answers for the person who finds themselves in duress. What do I say?  How do I answer?  What do I do with where they are?  How do I help them out of this mess?  Bearing that burden can cause even the most loving not to be present.

I am reminded of a scene in the movie, “Forrest Gump”.  Bubba Blue, has been wounded.  Forrest grabs him up and carries him out of the open fire.  He holds him in his arms while Bubba asks, “why did this happen”.  Forrest stays present while the pain has its way with Bubba’s body.  He listens, he cares, he loves.  He can’t stop the pain.  He can’t heal the wound.  He can’t change what has happened to Bubba. He simply and only can be love to a person in that moment..   Isn’t that what we all need?

There is only one who can heal the broken heart.  He alone calms the raging storm in me.  It is His hand that holds the scalpel that lances the wounds.   It is the only one who can do anything about the pain that blankets the soul.  I can offer what I have, His love in me.

When my son’s pain becomes a mystery to me I want to offer what I have, the ever-present God of love.

We all need Forrest’s in our lives.  We need people to sit through the mess of the pus that is left in the portals of our being from sin’s infection.  Real hurt occurs through the choices of others.  We need safe places to discover what that hurt is.  That’s what happens in the conversations where life becomes honest and real.  The pent-up pain oozes its way out. It’s part of the mess that brings the healing.

In that moment there is only One who can make the difference.  He lives in me.  He loves through me.

Bear one another’s burdens, Paul said.  In my humanity it will not happen.  I will run.  I will hide.  I will not offer the comfort of God but feel the need to offer the wisdom of man.  The more I see this, the more I am made aware of how deeply I need Christ’s life to be lived through me.

May the cry of my heart as I bear another up be, “God, how do you want to love through me, right now, in this moment.”

It is, I’m convinced, all there is.

©copyrighted 2015 Julie L Todd




The Religious Fog©

I live up on a mountain.  When the rains come, the fog follows along, sometimes dense, sometimes light. Visibility becomes difficult as I inch my way along the street towards home.  Sometimes the drive is scary, at best, as the thickness of the fog is great.   Finding the street that leads to my drive becomes a challenge.

Once the rain subsides the fog dissipates to clear, crisp fresh air, a washing to the earth around me.  I can’t get over the clearness of the blue skies after a rain.  Everything appears to be washed anew.

Life in this spiritual world has been that for me.  For many years a veil of religion blanketed my life making visibility difficult, at best.  All I knew was what I had been told.  I’m coming to find out that what I was told often wasn’t what was real about the God I have known.

Moments in life come that lift the fog of poor theology, revealing the depth of the riches of God’s amazing grace.  Such was the case a few days ago.

I had been told for as long as I could remember that God couldn’t hear me if I had sin in my heart.  I remember the days that I agonized with fear of the possibly I had missed something.  It was especially critical when I had a big decision to make.  I wanted to talk to God and I wanted to make certain He heard me.  I couldn’t run the risk of not hearing His voice and making the wrong choice.  I was fixated on every move I had made, hoping that I would remember everything.

As I sat to consider, my mind played through the days that had passed.  I went as far back as my mind would take me, considering my every step, my every word. I confessed until I couldn’t think of anything else.  I even re-confessed things I’d already asked forgiveness for, just in case.  It felt like a noose around my neck, dragging me into the pits of despair.  What if I missed one?

I needed for God to hear me.  I wanted to be in His will on the decision before me.  If He couldn’t hear me then I would be left to myself.  Of course it would be my own fault.   After all had I not sinned in the first place, I wouldn’t be in this predicament of wracking my brain.

Those ways of religion beat me up and kept me down for too many years.  But now, the veil is lifting and I can see.

I often have epiphanies in the midst of loving my own.  I sat with the question.  Would I be that way with my child?  Never, no not ever.  No matter what my child had done, I would never turn my back. Love will not allow me to do that and I am made in the image of the God who is love.  Some would argue that the holiness of God will not allow Him to look on sin.  That just doesn’t match up to His character displayed throughout the pages of scripture.

It leaves me to wonder how,  in this economy of Christ following, did we become so sin focused?  Where did the teachers and scribes lose sight of the picture of God?  He sent His son to redeem us from sin, to pay the cost, to bridge the gap.  Why would He stand back and wait for us to get it all right in order to be present?  After all it’s why Jesus died, to bridge the gap, to open the door, to be the way for man to be restored.

While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.  That verse in itself disputes the false teaching that God cannot hear my voice when sin is present in my life.

When Jesus said “it is finished” it was.  All that sin had done was atoned for, past, present and future. All sin was forgiven.  The veil in the temple was torn in two, opening the way for all to enter in and be in the presence of God, forever.

Suddenly everything was different.  It was no longer about my sin.  It is about a God who loved so fiercely that He sent His son to bring me back home where I belong.

©copyrighted 2015