Life is Pain (Revised)

At first, I thought it strange that on the same night my 18 year old daughter went to her senior prom and my 11 year old daughter returned from her first overnight, school field trip, I found myself reading an old poem I wrote to my grandmother before she passed away. Then these words drifted through my mind: this is the long good-bye, somebody tell me why. I think these words, despite the rest of the song’s lyrics (The Long Goodbye by Brooks and Dunn) which are about a failing romantic relationship, speak to a timeless truth of life and loss.

 I’m not sure when I first understood that my children are not really mine. I’ll admit, I am a little slow when it comes to the obvious. So while most of you probably knew early on that your children are gifts from God, entrusted to your care for a season, I naively assumed those moments would last forever. The mommy-hold-my-hand moments, the mommy-bake-cookies-with-me moments, the mommy-can-we-color moments, the mommy-your-my-whole-world-and-i-never-want-to-leave-you moments. Those moments. Do you remember them?

Tonight, as I watched my oldest drive away from me and toward a life that she lives almost entirely apart from me, I couldn’t help but remember that in a few short months she will leave for college. And while I rejoiced with my youngest that she conquered her fears of sleeping away from home, a familiar sadness settled in my soul. Here she goes…she’s on her way too.

A child’s primary goal is to leave her parents. From the very start, even in the womb, the main purpose of her development is to get out, get away, separate and live on her own, apart from me. The child who once shared my body, who was quite literally “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”, emerges, sits up, crawls, walks and then at last, runs. And while she returns at first for a steady hand, and later for a steady heart, those moments when I see her walking toward me grow further and further apart. She is going, she has always been going.

How is it that life should be so much about good-byes? You may say I am being extreme, but think on it for a moment. Can you name a person in your life that you will not, at one time or another, have to say good-bye to? We lose everyone unless they lose us first. Perhaps the Dread Pirate Roberts was not just spewing works soaked in bitterness when he said “Life is pain…anyone who says differently is selling something.” I believe he was expressing a timeless truth.

I’d like to take his words one step further and suggest that life is pain because life is loss. This is the long good-bye. I’m sure there are lots of philosophical and theological conversations we could have as to why but that is not my reason for writing this. I do not live as a person with no hope, no compass, no anchor. I know the way and I know the answer. But even in the light of eternal hope and glory, we walk in the shadow of death. I need not fear. But I hurt. Everyone hurts. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something. Don’t buy it.

Please don’t mistake me for a cynic! Rather, I like to consider myself a realist – a Christian realist, if you will. If we ignore the truths, even the truths of this world, how can we honestly interpret our reality? Even more so, how can we genuinely relate to others, especially those who don’t have the hope of Christ? There is great danger in minimizing life’s struggles or buying into the notion that as Christians we have to slap a smile on every situation.

So, my message to you (if I must have one) is that perhaps, rather than railing against the painful realities of life, rather than running from, ignoring or burying pain, rather than seeking revenge or retaliation, rather than raising our fists at God, we would be better served by deeply and honesetly accepting the truth that life, while filled with joy and daily miracles, is also fraught with loss, pain and suffering.

We waste so much energy denying reality and battling that which we can not change. Maybe instead we could let go and let the pain wash over us. Maybe we would find peace in Jesus’ words: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Maybe then we might see that God leaves no void he isn’t planning to fill. That all of the empty, aching caverns left behind by life’s losses, are potential reservoirs crying out to be filled by the only thing that will ever eternally satsify.

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9 thoughts on “Life is Pain (Revised)

  1. I hurt with you, cry with you, sob with you……..pray with you. Boy, all the emotions that have come up as a result of reading this were completely unexpected, but I guess I needed a good cry. I think because I have been seeing some of these things here as well…those moments of breaking away, growing up, saying goodbye or maybe it is because we live so close and our lives are intertwined here and there and I see……
    Sharing your heart has allowed me to stop and live and enjoy right where I am, so for this I thank you………..as I continue to hurt, cry and sob with you. I love you Nichole~~~ Nancy

    • Awww…sorry Nancy! Didn’t mean to make you cry! But it’s true, there is a connectedness as we raise our daughters just a few houses apart from one another. Thank you for sharing and for your compassion ❤

  2. Yes, pain hurts a bit less if we relax (think of the dreaded dentist chair, or getting an injection!)

    …”let the pain wash over us.” reminds me of Psalm 42:7 .
    …”all your waves and breakers have washed over me.” A Psalm with the refrain “Why are you downcast O my soul?
    Why so disturbed within me?
    Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him,
    My Savior and my God.”

    There is something we can do while we’re lying there in our pain. That is:
    “Put our hope in God”, and” praise Him.” This takes great effort for me when I’m hurting.
    But it definitely helps.

    So I agree, let go, feel the inevitable pain, but don’t lose hope or forget to praise Him in the midst of it. (Sometimes we need a friend to help us do this…so thankful for my sisters)

  3. Thanks every so much for sharing your heart so freely, Nichole. I love you for your honesty. I don’t know if you can look at your situation in a different way. Jacki is growing up, praise the Lord. It now your time for you to rejoice in the beautiful young woman she is becoming. You see, if you allow God to fill you with the hope of the future, it looks a little less bleak. But there is no denying that letting go is painful. Rejoice in what you have in the moment and don’t let anyone steal your time with her and just rejoice in sharing what you have with her now. I have learned that when we rejoice and praise God in our most difficult situations it will help us get through those situations with such ease.
    Will be praying for you, sister.

    • Hey Anne! Don’t worry, I am rejoicing and praising God in my pain for sure. That is what the last part of the post was about. Loss leaves a hole, but God can fill it. So glad God made you my sister!Love you and thanks for your prayers!

  4. Just found your blog thru the Writing 101 class.
    I really enjoy your posts: your stories about your grandparents, your love for them, your faith and your understanding of pain. One of the reasons I started blogging was to record for my children and grandchildren things about my life that they might like to know before I can’t remember anything. My inspiration was my friend’s mother, who started her post The Old Yard for the same reason.

  5. Pingback: Committed | Lightning Bug

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