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The beauty in the pain

“I’m just sad.”  said the little voice in the backseat.
“What makes you sad sweet girl?” 
“I’m sad about the thorns.  Why did they put thorns on him?”

It was almost a week past that Good Friday yet she was still questioning the thorns. She just can’t wrap her 3-year-old mind around a crown of thorns.

In all my theological awareness I fumbled to answer her question.  “It was all part of the plan…. I don’t understand why there were thorns, but I know it was part of God’s plan.”

“Well, that was a bad choice.” 

I hear you.  I don’t disagree with you.  We might not ever understand the sovereignty of God, but we can trust that his plan – that Larger Story – is good.  After that crown of thorns, the cross, and the grave, we see the beauty of the resurrection, life, and glory.

But this innocent three-year-old is sitting in the pain of the thorns.

I’m not like that.  I’ve never been like that.  As a matter of fact, I have spent my whole life the majority of my life trying to avoid pain – at all costs.  I never sat and questioned the pain of the cross or the thorns… I pretty much skip over Friday and jump to celebrating Sunday.  Can you truly celebrate the restoration without embracing the pain?

The past three years have been the most pain-filled years I can remember.  And as I near my 35th I am beginning to see the beauty of pain.  As a young child, I realized I didn’t want to have children because it seemed painful and hard.  As a young adult, I thought my younger self was wise beyond her years.  🙂  Then God began to call us into this place that forced us to face pain, and some days it feels as though we are swimming in the uncertainty of it all.

Y’all, we have some of the best times.  Our lives are full of laughter, cuteness, pink and purple.  Our garage looks like the Frozen movie exploded.  We play hard, we laugh hard, we love hard. We can’t go anywhere without drawing attention to our circus. But some days it’s just hard to even walk outside.  Some days I feel the need to protect the world from the pain we carry and every day I wish I could protect my girls from the pain that follows them.  And just like a 3 yr old I sit and ask,

“Why must life have thorns?  Where were you when [that] happened?  Why must they bear the scars of pain that I can’t even imagine?” 

I live with a keen awareness that in the lives of my girls, I am Option B.  I shared with another adoptive mom last week, through my own tears, I know that I am not the first choice….you might call me God’s back-up plan.  And truthfully, I’m not even sure if I was option B, C, D or even E….  (not that it really matters).  As much as many of us wish we could undo the pain of option A, I get to choose how I live out option B.  I do not take lightly the inspiration found in Sheryl Sandberg’s story of grief:

“Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the $#!% out of Option B.”

Recently I wrote about The tears of the broken and a hard season that we seem to be wandering through.  I wish I could say everything eased after that post, but it was almost as if the game went into overtime.  One evening after navigating an epic meltdown that left me trying to find my balance again, I sensed the Lord speaking, do not lose heart.  In the weeks of elevated emotions, tantrums that were sucking life from me and leaving our family reeling, I was tempted to shut-down – avoid the pain.

But that’s not what I am called to.  When I gain perspective of what is at stake in my life and the life of our girls…. the healing I long for them to know… the peace I long for us to experience as a family… I remember that invitation to play my part in Option B.  I will not lose heart.

I don’t pretend to understand the pain, or why God in his goodness still allows us to experience it.  Pain comes in all shapes and sizes.  Your pain is likely very different than ours –  or it may be somewhat the same – either way, I hope you find courage in the midst of it.

A wise woman recently spoke at our church and her words struck me deeply, “sometimes you have to feel the pain in order to heal the pain.”  This reminds me that it will be worth it…  these hard days will one day bear fruits of life, love and hopefully some functioning adults.  In the meantime… if you see us crying, screaming, or pulled over on the side of the road…. say a little prayer… our thorns are showing 😉

(In case you’re interested in hearing Lysa Terkeurst’s sharing on pain and disappointment, click here.
I’ve also ordered Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B and look forward to reading stories of others that have faced adversity and pain, and lived to tell about it.)

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