Experience

Share Your Suffering

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We all lose people, but that doesn’t make it any easier. We all go through changes that feel devastating and hurt deeply. We all feel pain regularly, whether we show it or not.

This year has been a hard year for me, in more ways than one. I lost two people personally, one to suicide. Two of my siblings from foster care moved away after more than a year with us. So many people around me lost people as well and I saw their pain. Little things have been adding stress to my day to day life, even though most of them are good. I’m getting ready to leave for college next year. I was a counselor in training at a camp for four weeks this summer. I was moved to a position of leadership in a discipleship team. All good things, but for some reason, very hard.

I have struggled with my feelings through all of this. (Yes, this is going to be a post about feelings – but I think it’s important to talk about) When leaving for college feels overwhelming, I think I’m doing something wrong. Surely I should be excited about such a big step! When I don’t want to go to work, I think that I’m feeling the wrong thing: there’s no reason to be frustrated, I’ve got to earn money somehow. When I lost someone to suicide, I didn’t think it should hurt as much as it did. Other people were closer to him.

Through this year, I have learned an important lesson: This world is wrong. And it’s okay to feel that.

When Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, sin entered the world, bringing with it death and pain. Those things have not left since then. They’re still here. We’re surrounded by the results of the fall every day of our lives and sometimes it makes us cry. Sometimes we long for Heaven not because we want to see God, but because we want to escape the pain. I know. I’ve felt that this year more than ever.

But then we might think that we need to be stronger than this. We’re supposed to have a hope within us, right? We’re supposed to lean on God and He will take care of our anxieties. He will give us strength to overcome the hurt and the struggles.

It’s easy to fall into thinking that we aren’t supposed to feel this much pain, for some reason or another. Maybe we need to put on a good face to the other believers around us. Maybe we think the tears hurt our witness that God is stronger than sin. Whatever the reason, it’s not true.

Have you ever seen someone try to cover up their pain? You hurt for them and you want to tell them that it’s okay, they can feel these things. Well, it’s time for us to tell ourselves that too. We don’t need to be stronger than the tears and the hurt. It’s not healthy to try to fight through on our own. It is healthy to share the pain.

When we pour out our hearts to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we feel better. Maybe not right away, but we have shared our burden, as the church is called to do. They may not have answers for us – in fact, they often don’t. We don’t understand why we’re allowed to suffer so much. But they can grieve with us and point us to Christ. And that’s what we need. We don’t need someone to say that it’ll all work out in the end and tell us to pull ourselves up by our boot straps. We need a fellow human to share our hurt and just be with us, knowing that we struggle and don’t understand, but staying anyway.

It’s not always easy to share what hurts so much with the people around us. Especially when we want to keep up appearances. I plastered on a “sad smile” when I told people about my friend’s death. A few times, that fake strength gave way to real tears and real questioning, and my family in Christ did not seem to mind. They prayed for me and encouraged me. They cried with me. It turned out that even though it hurt, many of them wanted to share my burden.

So please don’t bury your pain. This world is wrong, we all know. And we’re here to both rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). There is a better world coming. I know we can’t always see it or feel the joy that we think we’re supposed to exude as believers. And that’s okay. Keep suffering, friend. The church is here for you.

Kira

Slowing Down in a Speed of Light World

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I will be the first to admit that our generation (the ones just coming into adulthood or just barely there) is a group that wants quick fixes. I recently wrote about how that doesn’t work for our relationship with God, but almost every facet of life could benefit if we took our time.

Gone are the days of having to wait for “snail mail” in order to hear from someone, the days of working for years on a project before releasing it to the world. Now, we use all the fast technology that we can get our hands on and complain when the internet’s a little slow.

I don’t want to point fingers or cast blame today though. Instead, I want to look at the benefits of slowing down in many areas of our lives.

Experience

They say it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to become a professional. 10,000 hours. That’s 416.67 days of working around the clock. 1.14 years. However, if you can’t constantly stay awake and don’t want to skip dinner on a regular basis, it would take 27.4 years to reach that level of expertise at just one hour a day, every day, holidays and weekends included.

That is a lot of time. That is almost 10 more years than I have been alive. And yet, we often want the results of those 10,000 hours in the space of a few weeks at most. Think of someone who is a star in your field. Do you like music? How much time did Mozart spend practicing? Writing? What about C. S. Lewis?

Slowing down and taking the time that gaining a skill requires gives you the experience needed to be good at that skill. There’s nothing wrong with latching on to a hobby or something interesting for a few weeks and then moving on, but if you really want to be good at something, you have to put in the time.

Quality

Experience in an area naturally leads to a higher quality product, whatever that may be. Do you know of any famous football players? Me neither, but we can imagine. When they first touched a football, they were likely not getting a lot of touchdowns. They couldn’t do very many pushups. They didn’t know how to tackle the other team. (Please forgive me for where the analogy falls apart and reimagine it in a more accurate way)

They spent years all through grade school, college, and now on a professional team honing their skills and getting better at their game. The quality of their skills has grown with them because they put forth so much time. They were patient as they went to the gym every day. I don’t know of any pro football players who were regular 25 year olds who decided one day that they wanted to join the Patriots and were good enough to make the team.

Spending time on something not only gives us experience in that area, it also increases our ability to perform well day after day and year after year.

Joy

Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always liked the slow pace of the idyllic southern summer. Sitting on the porch with ice tea, going to the creek, making pancakes in the morning. Slow is nice. Slow lets us enjoy what we do.

Almost none of us live at that pace though. We’re up before dawn, drinking coffee and off to work or class. We’re meeting friends or doing homework all day long. We catch an hour of Netflix at the end of the day before falling into bed, setting our alarms to do it all again the next day.

I’ve mentioned it before, but the song “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz describes it perfectly. Go listen to it, but here are a few lines from the beginning of the song:

Alarm clock screaming, bare feet hit the floor
It’s off to the races, everybody out the door
I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, it’s a crazy life

Ninety miles an hour, going fast as I can
Trying to push a little harder, trying to get the upper hand
So much to do in so little time, it’s a crazy life
(“Breathe” by Jonny Diaz)

But what if we slowed down? Would the world come crumbling down around our ears if we took our time to do things well? I don’t think so. We’re all incredibly busy – I’m not trying to say otherwise. ThereĀ is a lot to do in a day. But I know there are also ways to slow down, take our time, and enjoy it more, no matter how busy we are.

It doesn’t have to be world-changing. How about an hour a week to talk with someone you haven’t seen in a while? Twenty minutes to read a book for fun? Doesn’t that sound nice? If we don’t have to have everything instantly, we can have the fun of getting there. Even taking some extra time to learn while working on a project can be more fun that rushing through it last minute. As the popular saying goes, it’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.

Slow down

It doesn’t take much to fight against the impatience that we’ve nurtured inside of ourselves. The benefits of not rushing through life far outweigh any costs. If we are patient, we can be among the best at what we do, we can create better things, and we can enjoy what’s around us a lot more. So, slow down. Take your time. I promise you’ll be fine.

Kira