Friday, August 1, 2014

Pain, Sorrow, and Suffering.....Making Sense Of It.

Pain, Sorrow, and Suffering.....Making Sense Of It.

It has taken me a long time to talk about this....I feel I am strong enough now....and it is time. I have always struggled with pain and suffering, the thought that God is always with you in the midst of it. The words, " he will never leave you or fore sake you ", that we toss in the direction of those whose world lays in rubble around their feet.
I think there are times on the grand stage of life, when a crisis of pain and suffering happen and the director/producer seem to have left the scene. The camera is left running. There is no one to explain what just happened, why it happened...or how the rest of the story will evolve. It's a freeze frame moment. You are stunned. Life's breath seems to have been sucked out of you. The hard drive in your head whirls frantically, trying to compute to make sense out of anything. In your free fall, you search for anything to hang on to.
I understand the concept of God being the great " I am ", the beginning, the end and every thing in between. But, there are times, are on stage alone.
The Psalmist muses, All the days ordained for me were
written in your book before one of them came to be."
What does that mean?

Did God have script already written for me stashed away in the heavenly archives. Did God yell, " Action ", and I prepared to enter the stage of life.Did it unfold as initially written? Or is the script being edited as the act of living my life unfolds?
Can I proclaim with the certitude of the Psalmist, or do I imagine something else?
Over the past year and a half...I have suffered two pregnancy losses. Both tragically felt...the recovery has been slow for me. I have searched my soul..asked why a million times....and offered up my very soul to accept whatever outcome God has for me and my children. And yet the pain lingers...the loss is felt every sun ray it hurts, in any vase of flowers, in any pleasure I feel reflects on the pain I feel at the same time. It feels like a line in a song I heard..."Sunny days seem to hurt the most...Feels like I'm wearing a heavy coat. " And an other said "Who said Providence can take a child from his Mother while she's praying" Was this a punishment...some kind of chastisement...was I not healthy enough....was I not good enough? One Lab report said placenta failure to develop. So painful to hear after seeing your baby move...and watching a fluttering heartbeat. Was this the script that was written by a grand director/ producer that I was to loose my babies.

Enter, pain and world lay in rubble at my feet. As if hit by the wind of a hurricane, my well constructed faith was scattered debris in all directions. And the director, where was he...suddenly the stage, the theater was empty. The lights had been turned out, not even an " exit " light illuminated a path for escape. I was alone...utterly alone.
" I will never leave you or fore sake you ", " all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be" Where was the director, and who would write such a bizarre sick script and expect us to faithfully act it out. For months I tried to digest the above words. They only added to my pain and suffering, they tormented me. I had so many questions. I wept, I screamed into the depth of the darkness that seemed to be swallowing me. I heard nothing...nothing, not even a whisper.
It seemed the only person I could relate to was Job. If the script I was living out was unbearable, Job's script was absolutely insane. Just when things couldn't possibly get any worse, they got worse. And Job had questions. If there was a script, he wanted answers...why!!!
But what really upset me was, Job did finally get to question God. But in an even more bizarre twist, Job's why questions were thrown back to him with more questions from God. So in the end, did Job fair better than me? Sure he was restored, life returned to normal...even better than normal, but there really was no answer to his pain and suffering. About the only thing Job could say with certitude was God is God. That some how he is the beginning, the end and everything in between. But as to how it all works, how the script comes into play...the actors, the scenes, pain, tragedy and suffering...still so many questions.
For months, I embraced my pain, suffering, sorrow. It was breakfast, lunch and dinner. I lived in the midst of an emotional storm of anger. I came to realize my well constructed faith is fragile, something to be held lightly, and that in pain, sorrow and loss it sometimes breaks. In the end, I pick up pieces, not all the pieces...and I learn to live with new faith.
I believe there are times when we are alone. I believe there is a script to my life, but that it is a script of such imagination that I will never understand least not here, on the stage in which I act out my part.
Pain, suffering and sorrow, are they pre-written into the intimate scripts of our lives? I don't think so. But they are a reality of everyday life. They torment us, and haunt us with never ending questions that we very seldom find answers to. They test faith, reconfigure, and reconstruct faith. And in the end, we likely find like Job did...God is truly God, miraculously he is the beginning, and the end...and everything in between.
I think we find God in the midst of friends, family who hold us, love us, hug us, and cry with us. They some how lift us carry us when we are too weak to even move. It is the hands, the face, the words of the God who is love coming into being. Mysteriously it is Emmanuel...God with us, in the midst of pain suffering and sorrow.
When my road leads into dark storms,
You will light up my eyesight.
When I fall on hard ground,
You will lift me up to rise.
When I face hardship and scorn,
We will together share our portion.
When I suffer in a hopeless sickbed,
We will together battle in each breath.
When I'm lost alone and lingering,
You will be with me, and guide me home.
One day I'll die and depart,
But I truly believe
You will lift me up.
O God, our Savior, listen to our prayer.
Fill our hunger, heal our sickness,
Comfort our souls.
If you wish not to answer,
Then please wait for us,
Because we are about to shut our eyes.
Now my act on stage has a new purpose...I felt overwhelmingly to rise from the ashes of this event with healing in my wings. God did finally answer my unanswered questions...

He said to me as clear as rain......"Mourn with those who mourn...and comfort those who stand in need of comfort." My pain was a lesson...a training ...a preparation to help me to help others who suffer the loss of a pregnancy or an infant. I also Put together Pregnancy and infant loss memory boxes for the hospital to give mothers in the hospital.If anyone would like to donate items for this project please let me know. I call them Butterfly Boxes...a butterfly has a very short lifespan...but a beautiful one that touches all . I was inspired to create a website for grieving mothers...if you know anyone who has suffered such a deep loss...please refer them to the website is a safe place to grieve. This was a labor of love for me.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pain Teaches Us Patience....

Pain Teaches Us Patience.... Just like the snow covered earth waits patiently for Spring to appear, so too, pain teaches us to wait for brighter days and new life ahead. Sometimes pain comes in a physical form, sometimes even a chronic form. Those are times we can grow frustrated with the healing process. Our Patience is tested. I have found I am better at evaluating, analyzing, and growing from some of the emotional difficulties. But because that , in itself stretches me to the very breaking point...I often can't be so patient, so centered, when physical pain hits. Recently I had a slip and fall and was injured. Although I'm taking all steps possible to recover, and try to return to my usual routine, it has been a trial. I can tolerate how uncomfortable I am for a few hours after having some sleep, but within hours of annoying and tense pain...I'm snapping at everyone. It's just not my nature to be so short with others. I'm trying to learn to be patient like the still, calm, snow covered branches. If patience is a lesson to be acquired in this life, pain in it's raw, unrelenting, unforgiving way...can be a master teacher... to be still, breathe, focus, relax, and patiently wait...for this too will pass. Beautiful springtime could be just a season away. What joy some tulips and daffodils will bring after the Icy isolation of physical pain. If I can't conquer this today...I have patience with myself that I may have a better day tomorrow.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pain Teaches Us Empathy.....

     One of the greatest lessons pain can teach us, is a lesson in empathy. By definition Empathy reads:
Empathy has many different definitions that encompass a broad range of emotional states, such as caring for other people and having a desire to help them; experiencing emotions that match another person's emotions; discerning what another person is thinking or feeling; and making less distinct the differences between the self and the other.
It also is the ability to feel and share another person’s emotions. Some believe that empathy involves the ability to match another’s emotions, while others believe that empathy involves being tenderhearted toward another person. Compassion and sympathy are two terms that many associate with empathy, but all three of these terms are unique. Compassion is an emotion we feel when others are in need, which motivates us to help them. Sympathy is a feeling of care and understanding for someone in need. Empathy is distinct from sympathy, pity, and emotional contagion. Sympathy or empathic concern is the feeling of compassion or concern for another, the wish to see them better off or happier. Pity is feeling that another is in trouble and in need of help as they cannot fix their problems themselves, often described as "feeling sorry" for someone. Emotional contagion is when a person (especially an infant or a member of a mob) imitatively "catches" the emotions that others are showing without necessarily recognizing this is happening.

 Since empathy involves understanding the emotional states of other people, the way it is characterized is derivative of the way emotions themselves are characterized. If, for example, emotions are taken to be centrally characterized by bodily feelings, then grasping the bodily feelings of another will be central to empathy. On the other hand, if emotions are more centrally characterized by a combination of beliefs and desires, then grasping these beliefs and desires will be more essential to empathy. The ability to imagine oneself as another person is a sophisticated imaginative process. However, the basic capacity to recognize emotions is probably innate   and may be achieved unconsciously. Yet it can be trained    and achieved with various degrees of intensity or accuracy.

It is said when one experiences pain, their ability to acquire empathy, which from definition would feel what the other is feeling. That is so much deeper than just feeling poorly for them. So much more than even having compassion and service toward them. To identify with someone by almost becoming one with their pain, is so similar to the Lord himself, taking on our pains upon himself. In order for us to follow in the path of compassion, one must acquire a sense of empathy to motivate true oneness and unity with those we serve. We are taught that we are to become one and unified in service to one another. There really isn't a closer way to feel unity than to truly have empathy for others. Pain is excellent at training us to recognize and actually FEEL for ourselves what another may be travailing through in their pain. Sometimes empathy is troublesome. I know I have acquired so much empathy it is a burden at times to feel others feelings so intensely. But what burden is not made light, by showing compassion, kindness, service, and just relating to another's pain. We know we need to stand as a witness of God at all times, in all things, and in all places, and mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort. Let us not turn our back on pain, but let it be a teacher of becoming one through empathy.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Pain Teaches Us We Can Go Another Direction....

     Imagine the joy of having a future of possibilities in front of you, a graduation, a long awaited achievement, a birth of a child, a new career opportunity.A long awaited and saved for vacation, Closing a big business deal that will change everything in your life, a wedding, etc. The list could really go on and on. Now imagine all hopes, dreams, as you had imagined, being swooped away in a flash. News that you were 1/2 of 1/2 percent short of receiving a grade you worked hard for. That baby you so anxiously awaited and wanted,  slips away and you have nothing but empty arms to bring home from the hospital. That new job you thought you were getting, well, you were passed over for the next guy because he was the bosses, cousin's, brother. That vacation you planned and saved so hard for, well that money will be paying for medical bills of a new chronic illness you have developed, And what about that big deal, the one if you close it, you will have a handle on all the problems in your life, but instead, you are cheated by your own client (who was a friend and trusted) and you are told it's not about church, this is business.What about the marriage of your dreams, the one where fairy-tales come true...and it ends up 6 months into it...and you aren't even sure who you married.

    These are just scenarios. But the truth is we all endure times when doors are slamming in our faces. that can be painful. What to do with a big fat NO! No you can't graduate, No! you can't have that new job you worked hard for, NO! you can't have your baby, No! you can't close that life changing deal, No! your vacation will be paying medical bills, No! there will not be a fairy-tale ending to your story!!!!! Got it?????? Your answer to your dreams is NO!!!!!

    Okay, now this is sounding like a really depressing post, well, let me ask you this. Is pain depressing? Oh, yes it can be, and will be, at times. But there are times, maybe few and far between, but real, true times when, pain has something else to say. It is not just saying NO!!!! It  is saying look the other way. Go a different direction. You have a different path. It looks like your in a cave of darkness, but in's a path into the light. The only gate holding you back not taking your focus off the great big NO!!!!! And looking at your life in the face and saying well, if  I received a NO!!!! about my dreams , then there has to be a YES!!! in another direction. 

    I remember standing in my shower sobbing, I was so weak from crying, I had to lean my head on the wall of the shower. I cried out to God with deepest sorrow, for I had just lost a second baby in a row, over a period of a year. I couldn't understand why he was telling me a big fat NO!!!! I was completely and utterly beside myself. I finally humbled myself , which felt devastating, and cried out, "Okay! I get it! You're telling me NO!!!! Now what in this world am I suppose to do with this pain???? Just because you said NO!!!! Doesn't mean I'm not hurting. And I don't like your answer!"( I do kind of talk back to God sometimes. But he is very patient with me.) I told him "I'm beside myself in sorrow!" So what did pain teach that very dark , painful moment....I heard a voice speak to me.......It was my Higher Power, "This happened to you, so you can weep with those that weep, and comfort those who need comfort.You will start a support group webpage for women with Pregnancy and infant loss. You will get out of your pain and comfort someone else's."

     So that is what Pain taught me, to not go inward with my disappointment, and become bitter, angry, and selfish. But instead go outward and touch, and reach, and bless, another hurting soul. Somehow there is healing in it. I can't put it into words, but it's real and it works. Sometimes when life slams a big fat No!!!! in your face, it's just saying take another direction. Here is my website that has helped many women of loss. If you know anybody this can comfort please feel free to share it.  Beside Myself :A safe lace to Grieve
I have many other Yes'es!!! That resulted from NO's!!!!

    Pain teaches us, we can go another direction.....and it can turn out beautiful! It can turn out to be the biggest YES!!!! of your life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pain Teaches Us to Hope....

     One of the strongest virtues I can re-call developing out of painful situations in my life is the trait of having hope. For some reason in the darkest corridors of pain, there is a small echo back whispering..."Have Hope!". I can not claim that this hope is a constant companion mind you. It has come and gone throughout my earthy duration, so far. I have just noticed that in painful moments when hope visits me....the pain  itself, is easier to tolerate. As a child we may even be born with an essence of hope. It seems to come natural as in "I hope I get a bike for my  birthday.", "I hope I can win at a competition.', or " I hope I will do well on a test." As important as those things are at those ages, what pain does, is it gives depth to our hopes, depth to our character. How different it is to hope forthose things then compared to pain produced hope. A hope that the sun will rise after a night of deep soul searching darkness, or to hope someone close to you, whom is knocking on death's door, is still breathing right now and will be, in an hour from now, and to hope a wound caused by the deepest betrayal of a trust shattered , can be healed. These hopes are so different in nature due to the pain that birthed the hope. Hopes so different, than the simpler hopes we had of yester-year.

     Why is hope so important anyway? The definition says "Hope is an emotional state which promotes belief in a good outcome related to events and circumstances." Well that sounds very optimistic.  

If thy hope be any thing worth, it will purify thee from thy sins. -Joseph Alleine, 

Hope is a waking dream.Aristotl,

 Know then, whatever cheerful and serene
Supports the mind, supports the body too:
Hence, the most vital movement mortals feel
Is hope, the balm and lifeblood of the soul.- John Armstrong

 Hope knows no fear. Hope dares to blossom even inside the abysmal abyss. Hope secretly feeds and strengthens promise. Sri Chinmoy

  • "Hope" is the thing with feathers —
    That perches in the soul —
    And sings the tune without the words —
    And never stops — at all

    And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard —
    And sore must be the storm —
    That could abash the little Bird
    That kept so many warm —
    • Emily Dickinson, Poem 254 in The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1960), edited by Thomas H. Johnson
     Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent. Mignon McLaughlin,

     Hope is brightest when it dawns from fears. Walter Scott

    Pain can teach us to hold on a little longer, to look forward to tomorrow , to trust in a new found friend, a virtue that can transfigure your life and your soul...that virtue of Hope. When I am exasperated by pain in any of it's forms...I have been taught through pain to turn to Hope, for she patiently waits for me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pain clears the way for inspiration....
      Pain clears the way for inspiration. Getting some disheartening news can throw you back on the couch with a heart racing and tears swelling. But after the news sinks in , and you settle into the reality of the situation, you can see the lesson. It is there. Something happened, the reason may not be so clear, but what to do with this may be the real inspiration.

      We get to decide if we will fight against the tide of disappointment, or we will accept that this, may be a path we have to travel for a purpose. Going through a dark, long, tunnel can start to feel overwhelming. Light starts to appear in the far distance, of the misty abyss. It may appear even very small, yet growing brighter, and brighter, as you approach the end of the tunnel of darkness. There you receive a gift. The gift is a lesson. You learn that no matter how scared or overwhelmed you felt just moments, months or years can experience something else in the near future. The past does not have to be your future. Now sometimes the past will re-visit us in the form of a new lesson. Maybe a lesson we didn't learn well enough, on our last trip down the long, dark tunnel. This may enrage you, or discourage you, or even cause resentment, at the idea that we must once again, suffer for what appears to be no purpose at all. But oh, how our lives are laced with intricate details all interwoven to bring us to our highest good. Hard to believe, that pain is a teacher. I understand. Pain does. Without it you would never understand joy, happiness, peace, serenity,sweetness, kindness, compassion, goodness, charity......LIGHT. "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12

     There must be opposition in all things. Not some things, not sometimes, not only for other people. Opposition is part of the deal. It is part of Earth School. It is part of inheriting light without end. unimaginable joy, treasures untold. It's how and what we do with that opposition, that pain, that builds character. I'm not saying, you won't fall apart sometimes, you won't have the wind knocked out of you, you won't cry out "My God, why has thou forsaken me?" because most likely you will do those things. But it's what you do after that, it's what you do when you are capable of pulling the pieces of yourself back together into something that resembles a human life form. It is what you do with the pain, and how you let it inspire you, when your healed. Even if it it's a bad patch work job of healing. You will know pain is the teacher when all  is said and done with your pain, and you feel inspired to do something positive with yourself.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Motives are worth exploring......
     Motives is one thing I have studied and learned so much about. It is a subject worth exploring. I love the quote “We examine our actions, reactions, and motives. We often find that we’ve been doing better than we’ve been feeling.” It's the examining part that I find so important. Pain teaches that it hurts when people have impure motives. Pain teaches us that we hurt others and ourselves when our motives are impure. In the manual called The Big Book of 12 step programs there is a wonderful piece of advice.

"At Step Four we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, and frightened?  Though a given situation had not been entirely our fault, we often tried to cast the whole blame on the other person involved.
We finally saw that the inventory should be ours, not the other man’s. So we admitted our wrongs honestly and became willing to set these matters straight. Page 67 "

That right there, is the knowledge we are looking for. That magical advice that when applied to life can make all the difference. Checking our motives, keeping the focus on ourselves, will save the world a great deal of pain.
     From the meditation book
Each Day a New Beginning

Being alone and feeling vulnerable. Like two separate themes, these two parts of myself unite in my being and sow the seeds of my longing for unconditional love.
—Mary Casey
How easily we slip into self-doubt, fearing we’re incapable or unlovable, perhaps both. How common for us to look into the faces of our friends and lovers in search of affirmation and love.
Our alienation from ourselves, from one another, from God’s Spirit which exists everywhere causes our discontent. It is our discontent. When souls touch, love is born, love of self and love of the other. Our aloneness exists when we create barriers that keep us separate from our friends, our family. Only we can reach over or around the barriers to offer love, to receive love.
Life offers us the tools for loving, but we must dare to pick them up. Listening to others and sharing ourselves begins the process of loving. Risking to offer love before receiving it will free us from the continual search for love in the faces of others.
I won’t wait to be loved today. I will love someone else, fully. I won’t doubt that I, too, am loved. I will feel it. I will find unconditional love.

I shall not pass this way again;
Then let me now relieve some pain,
Remove some barrier from the road,
Or brighten someone’s heavy load.
–  Eva Rose York

Illness has helped us better understand the relationship between those who help and those who need help.  Loving help is not prompted by pity or superiority, but by empathy and shared humanness.  Also, we’ve learned that no one is always the helper or always the one needing help.  We are both.  We are bonded to others through what we give — and what we receive.
I will show my love by helping and being willing to be helped.

I personally really appreciated the meditation reading in One Day at a Time.

One Day At A Time
And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone …
–The Big Book, page 84
When one goes through life at full speed ahead as I have done, it’s hard to really step back and look at one’s life. Everything is happening too fast and each day seems to blend into the next and, before you know it, the next segment of life seems to take over.
When I began my Twelve Step program, I found myself slowing down … examining my life … observing those around me … and reflecting on my past. I began to know who I was and I didn’t like one of the things I discovered: I was a fighter. I didn’t accept people, places or things unless and until they met my expectations of what they should be. I tried to control situations that I should have walked away from. I clung to people I should have distanced myself from. I tried to manipulate things that were toxic to me, and make them un-toxic … and, in the process, did myself great harm.
“We have ceased fighting anything or anyone,” I felt it didn’t apply to me … because at that point, I hadn’t categorized myself as a fighter. It took living and working the Steps to realize that. And it took living and working the Steps to take the action necessary to stop being a fighter.
Life is calmer now. Relationships are smoother. I sometimes miss the excitement of going through like as though I were on a roller coaster … but I won’t go back there. Serenity means too much to me. Fighting is something I have put away forever.
One Day at a Time . . .
I will direct my thinking and doing to those things in my life which will contribute to a meaningful and pleasant journey.
~ Mari ~

Here is a wonderful thought helps me to know when we get our motives in check, and  life can be magical.

Journey to the Heart
Open to Life’s Magic
“I will never forget my mother’s words to me the first time she took me to the Hob rain forest,” a woman told me, when she learned I was going there. “We were at the edge of the forest, about to enter. My mother stopped walking and turned to me. “There’s magic here,” she said. It wasn’t her words that impressed me. What struck me was the absolute certainty and matter-of-fact way she said it. It was like she had just told me, ‘Dinner’s ready,’”
There’s magic in the air. It’s the next place on the journey. It’s inevitable. We have been clearing the path so we could do more than merely trudge down the road. The road leads to magic– a magical way of living. A magical way of being here. The magic in the air isn’t an illusion, isn’t a trick. You have done your work. You have stuck with the journey. Now is the time for fun,the time to see and know more of life’s magical ways.
Walk lightly. Enter the enchanted forest. Look around. Keep your eyes and ears open. Tell others what you see. The journey to the heart is a journey of wonder and awe.
“The ancient ones, the trees, are waiting for you,” the woman said. “When you get there, tell them I said hi.” Open to life’s magic. It’s been waiting for your call.

Here is another great one: (And yes...I'm kind of attached to meditation books)
Elder’s Meditation
“The Old Ones have always said that no matter who despises or ignores you, no matter who keeps you from entering their circles, it is right to pray for them because they are like us, too.”
–Larry P. Aitken, CHIPPEWA
You don’t know how an apple tastes until you taste it. You don’t know what a fish tastes like until you eat it. You don’t know how it is to be a woman unless you are one. You don’t know what it means to have a baby until you have one. So it is with the natural laws. An example: the natural law of forgiveness says, if you hate someone, pray for the person to be blessed with happiness, joy and all the blessings of the Great Spirit. You will not know about this law unless you do it. The natural law says love others as you love yourself. If you hate yourself or feel guilt in some area of yourself, you will tend to judge and condemn your neighbor. You cannot give away what you don’t have. You teach your children by your example, not by your words. The natural laws are written in our hearts.
Great Spirit, teach me how to look into my heart.
 Checking motives of our-self and being aware of motives of others will help us on our journey, to learn that motives in the wrong  direction can cause pain. One of my worst worst motive driven behavior is being people pleasing. I will end today's post with one last thought from a favorite meditation of mine on people pleasing.

The Language of Letting Go

Have you ever been around people-pleasers? They tend to be displeasing. Being around someone who is turned inside out to please another is often irritating and anxiety- producing.
People-pleasing is a behavior we may have adapted to survive in our family. We may not have been able to get the love and attention we deserved. We may not have been given permission to please ourselves, to trust ourselves, and to choose a course of action that demonstrated self-trust.
People-pleasing can be overt or covert. We may run around fussing over others, chattering a mile a minute when what we are really saying is, “I hope I’m pleasing you.” Or, we may be more covert, quietly going through life making important decisions based on pleasing others.
Taking other people’s wants and needs into consideration is an important part of our relationships. We have responsibilities to friends and family and employers. We have a strong inner responsibility to be loving and caring. But, people-pleasing backfires. Not only do others get annoyed with us, we often get annoyed when our efforts to please do not work as we planned. The most comfortable people to be around are those who are considerate of others but ultimately please themselves.
Help me, God, work through my fears and begin to please myself.

My final thought is if I please God, if my motives are to glorify him, I should be in a peaceful place. Pain has taught me that much.