“On a scale from 1-10 how bad does it hurt?” My dad asks as I’m lying in the back room of my church in tears because yet again, I have a kidney stone. I wanted to say 1,000 but realistically I was at a 6.
Can I be honest? I hate whenever people ask me to rate my pain on a scale. For me to properly answer your question, I would need to know how deep, vast, and complex is the capacity on the scale. Because the reality is, everyone has different capacities. My mom has always told me not to compare someone else’s scale of pain to mine. Someone’s 2, could be my 7.. or vise versa. This has always stuck with me and has reigned true for quite some time.
I had a conversation with a friend one night. We had gone through very similar things in life and we were sharing how it affected us differently. I found myself being hesitant as I didn’t want to admit that somewhere along the lines, I measured her pain as a 10 and mine as 1, because her outcome was different than mine. I genuinely believed that my outcome didn’t matter as greatly as hers because hers was far deeper than mine. You know what she said? “China, I don’t want you to ever feel that what happened to you didn’t matter. Pain is pain and we all feel it, some of us just feel it a little deeper and a little longer.” For the first time in a while I felt like I could breathe a little easier.
How’s your pain on a scale of one to ten?
Do you think anyone asked Jesus that as he hung there naked on the cross? His closest companions nowhere to be found, sweating blood, and beaten beyond recognition. I’m pretty sure his level of pain was the last thing on our saviors mind. I couldn’t imagine that much physical pain, let alone have a conversation with someone else whose hanging on a cross beside me. Jesus’ focused still remained on his father. What makes me think that? “Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34)
How many times do we remember to align our hearts back up with The Fathers when we are experiencing pain? I’m a big advocate for feeling your feelings and staying present in your emotions. However, we are not called to stay there. Just like I believe Jesus didn’t stay in his grave, you sure as heck aren’t supposed to stay in yours. In times of trauma and crisis, where does your mind go? I know for me personally it’s a constant fight just to stay present and not to shut down and shut everyone out. I instead have to remember to fix my gaze on Jesus and ask for his eyes to see things the way that he does.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, is that pain does indeed demand to be felt. Trust me on this. I’ve tried to not feel things and to shut down. That’s only a temporary “fix”. Because the reality is you’re very unlikely to go back and deal with those feelings later. It’s important to stay present in how you’re feeling. It’s okay if things aren’t sunshine and rainbows. I don’t live in that kind of world either. Stay present and ask Jesus to come in and do what only he can do. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 promises us that.
One last thing. Don’t let people diminish your pain. Like I said earlier, everyone’s pain is scaled out differently. Sometimes it takes people a little longer than you to climb their mountains. Jesus is showing them something and he likes to take his time. Just remember to encourage your friends and always point them back to Jesus in those moments. Ask the father to reveal new ways in how you can better love that person. Or maybe that person is you. Maybe you’re having a hard time having grace for yourself. Hey, me too. Allow yourself to go through the process of healing. Everyone’s story is different, so therefore everyone’s journey is going to be different. Please don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. You’re in the process and you’re doing the best that you can. I know that Jesus is so incredibly pleased with you.
I’ll leave you with my favorite verse right now that has brought me a lot of comfort.
“Why? Because the Master won’t ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way.”