pain

In 2005 I missed my mom’s birthday for the third year in a row.  I wasn’t even in the same state.  I remember calling her from my rental car to wish her a happy birthday.  As soon as she answered I said, “Happy birthday mom.”  And from there I don’t remember the rest of the conversation.  I was crying my eyes out.  It was a big cry too, there was full-blown snot coming out of my nose, wheezing, it got hard to breathe, then I got the hiccups.  I cried for about thirty minutes after I got off the phone with my mom.  I just sat in the rental car and cried.  I remember going to Wal-Mart then driving back to the parking lot and I broke down in tears again.  By this time I was on my 6th straight day working 18-hour days at a shelter for Hurricane Katrina victims.

I remember after this random cry I pulled a crisis counselor aside and asked to talk to her for a little bit.  I told her what had happened.  I didn’t want a few days in a shelter to turn me crazy.  When I told her about my breakdown her only response was, “that’s great.”  I was confused because when men cry, it usually isn’t great.  She said, “don’t worry you’re normal.”  She then went on to explain that the 450 people in the shelter all have one story to cope with, I had 450 stories of pain and brokenness to deal with.  It was the natural reaction of my body to cry, it released the stress and pain.  She then said something cheesy that you might expect a crisis counselor to say, “crying cleanses the soul.”  She told me that if I didn’t cry randomly after experiencing what I have then I might be a psychopath.

I was thinking back on this experience today.  I was thinking of Paul’s prayer to the people of Ephesus.   He prays for them to be rooted in love and to have the power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.  This is a cool prayer because it isn’t for something tangible like a physical need.  It is simply for them to understand how much God loves them.  I took on the pain and brokenness of 450 people for ten days and I was an absolute basket case.  Do you smell what I am stepping in?  Do you see where this is all going?

How much love does it take to bear the brokenness and pain of billions?  How much must Jesus love humanity, to take on our pain and brokenness?  It’s a load to carry, think about how much of your story you’ve told to certain people.  Maybe you haven’t even unloaded the whole thing on someone because it’s too big of a burden to carry.

I wish I could give some really good advice on how to cope with your pain and brokenness, but everyone copes with the pain differently.  I can’t do that but what I can do is pray that you one day will grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

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