Let me open this by quoting Rabindranath Tagore
“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it. Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield, but to my own strength. Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved, but hope for the patience to win my freedom. Grant that I may not be a coward, feeling Your mercy in my success alone; But let me find the grasp of Your hand in my failure.”
Where do I begin? I’ve had an interesting run with life, lately. I can’t even begin to elaborate. We all have our private inward struggles. Sometimes people look at me in wonderment and find themselves bewildered at my positivity. It’s hard for most to fathom how someone can be so “happy”. It’s almost as if they for a moment suspect I am superhuman. It is my role through Adored Above to inspire, uplift and encourage, I get that. However, a lot of times, I am preaching at myself or speaking from brokenness. How can that be? How can someone remain positive, while inwardly broken? That’s a great mystery to me, which I most accredit to Jesus Christ and the exceedingly powerful force at work within me. This is not just a Jesus Answer, I assure you! There truly is a force beyond my control that works on my behalf to help me. But Jesus Answers aside, what happens when you deal with the ugliness of pain? You know, the kind that wrenches your gut? What about the ugly parts of life, the ones nobody wants to talk about or admit exist? Guess what, and I sincerely hope this doesn’t come as a shock to you, but I experience PAIN. And not just sometimes. Life can be a mystery. From out of seemingly nowhere, you exist. Nobody asked for it. Nobody put in a request to submit themselves to quite possibly the most difficult yet rewarding journey on the face of this Earth. And now what? What do you do with this gift of life? And what happens when you aren’t enjoying the ride? I don’t have all the answers to these questions or yours, I promise. This may sound like an entirely depressing post, but I promise there’s a value to it that will soon be yours.
So often we have pain and our first response is to shove it down, deep down. We want to get rid of it, pretend it doesn’t exist, not show anyone, and hide from it and everyone else. Our response is sometimes of fight or flight, isn’t it? You might as well call it fright and flight. Fear seems to always hold hands with pain, doesn’t it? Shifting gears here, I spoke to a dear individual today about pain and how pain causes us, myself, to make decisions that sometimes move me away from the things that are most important to me. We sat and simmered on that thought. Why do I do this? Why do I, or anyone for that matter, make choices that causes inner conflict and turmoil in the long run, in order to for a moment ease pain and relieve loneliness? Loneliness is a pain that I have endured my entire life. If it had a shape and a substance it would be inconspicuously hidden, but have a large shape with an even larger shadow. It would hide itself neatly, tucked away on a pristine shelf but rear it’s ugly head when nobody is around. It stands there tall and lofty, casting its ominous shadow over me until I succumb to it’s demands. But let me ask you something, something I have never considered until more recently. What would happen if I didn’t engage it? Really? What if as it slowly climbed down from it’s shelf to take it’s stance by mine, that I watched it for just a moment? What if I let the uncomfortable feeling sit just a while, as I size it up for what it really is? FEAR. PAIN. LONELINESS. So be it. What if rather than seizing the opportunity to jump and run in any available directions, if I just let…. it….. be…..
There was a powerful realization that I had today…
There is beauty and purpose in pain.
What if it were okay to have pain, loneliness, anxiety, fear… all in one place. They exist and show up anyway. I don’t have to call them out from their pious palaces. They always know where to find me and sometimes in the same places. So what if I let them exist in and of their own? Could it be that then I have power and mastery over them? If I am able to let that moment sit with me, with the good and bad of me, could it be that they would have only the effect I allow them to have? If this is true, than could pain not be a teacher? Could pain not be the catalyst for many beautiful things? What things are most important to you? Write them down if you can. For me it’s God, Growing my Spirit, Inspiring, Encouraging and Loving people. Then write down what things you struggle with, that tear you up? Write them down…As for me, things that I struggle with? Pain, Fear, Loneliness and Anxiety. Now, If I were to write them on a paper for you on two different sides and fold them in half, I’d hand the paper over to you and tell you to get rid of the things you don’t like. Like any person, you’d begin to destroy the paper. Or maybe you are just really smart ;). Maybe you’d be a crumbler, but for me, I tore up that paper. At first slowly, as if needing permission, but towards the end with confidence and assurance….
I realized I was destroying the good things on the other side of that paper.
It dawned on me… Could it not be that both of those beautiful and scary things exist and support one another? Maybe there is purpose in pain. Maybe pain is what can either motivate me to run further from or closer to the things that matter most in my life. And I believe it is.
Then I realized…. PAIN is something I know very well. I know it intimately and intricately. I’d get lost in all the facets of pain that I have come to understand. But I realized as I held the ripped up pieces of paper in my hand, that I had found a key to one of the first ever books I’d begin to write. I’m not sure how to land the plane here, but I do know that as a rose can grow through concrete, so can a story arise from the cement block of pain. I believe God is going to use my story, the pain I’ve experienced and my JOURNEY to set many lives free in God. BUT the test must be passed first. And with that is the uncomfortable process of allowing pain to be what it is… the catalyst for change.
I could end that here, but that wouldn’t be realistic would it? Such a pretty way to end a piece of literature, right? Well guess what. I still don’t have all the answers. I am just one step closer to figuring out how to deal with the pain and to allow it to have a POSITIVE impact on my life. The first step is to become aware. I became aware today. However, it’s what you DO with that awareness that makes a tangible difference. I can see it now, ten years from now… conditioned through the pain and teaching others how to let pain set you free. Now I’m not talking about SITTING in pain and letting your whole life be about pain. I am ALL about freedom, but what if your freedom is on the other side of dealing appropriately with pain when it does occur? Remember, everyone will experience pain, disappointment, anxiety, fear, loneliness… But what makes someone stronger? What makes someone really victorious in all things? Perhaps it involves the way we are patient through pain? Perhaps it requires action on our part when it does come, to ensure we make wise decisions when that familiar foe comes knocking at our door. I know I have a nice little homework assignment ahead of me. I am aware now that I have to truly sit with pain and from that uncomfortable place, DECIDE how I am going to respond to it. What a powerful realization. Too good not to share.
xoxo Alicia Barkley