15 things I’ve learned from going through the pain of my family upheaval.

Thanks to the WordPress 20 days writing prompts aka Everyday Inspiration, I’m finally writing about what I’ve learned from going through six months (and counting) of loss and pain.

Here are 15 things I’ve learned from going through pain:

  1. Pain is the mother of necessity in growth as a person.
  2. That really, I can’t control outcomes. I have zero arse control over many things…ok, everything.
  3. I’m not god.
  4. That crazy notion of ‘joy amidst suffering’—it’s real and possible.
  5. I hurt people, and I seriously need to say sorry.
  6. The years of repetitive hurts caused by others has hardened my heart.
  7. Depression is real, and it sucks big time.
  8. I have a choice to give my hand to God and let Him lift me up from my dungeon.

    Wrestling with God
    And not be like this. Puny me resisting the Big Guy’s help. Doodle credit: Chan Wai.
  9. My years of anger issue is a blinking symptom of something seriously wrong going inside of me.
  10. What happened even when we were a toddler, stays in the memory, even if we are not aware of it. And it can trigger hot buttons. I learned that from Elijah House.
  11. God’s word is true and not to be messed with.
  12. The liberation of letting go, and then through prayer, letting God work— the feeling is unbelievably comforting.
  13. Not to negate or rationalise away emotions.
  14. Emotion is the language of our heart, telling us what’s happening inside.
  15. God can heal the deepest hurts.

Bonus: Making a list is such fun. Try it!

Share your list with me?


20 days writing prompt series. Day two: Write a list

The Lord gives strength to the weary

Ran out of steam by running on my own strength. The invitation from the Lord has always been open to me, to go to Him. I didn’t take it seriously, not fully, anyway.

How does it feels like to drop everything at His cross, and follow His lead?


I was presented with this verse, right smack at the beginning of the war movie, Hacksaw Ridge; a true story of an American army medic, Desmond Doss, whose beliefs convicted him to not kill, nor use a rifle…even in the war.

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power . Isaiah 40: 31 AMP

Here I am waiting, abide in me, I pray
Here I am longing for You
Hide me in Your love, bring me to my knees
May I know Jesus more and more

God, I want to know You more. I need to know You more. I want it to be real in my heart. Lord, I want that kind of conviction to depend on the unshakable You.


They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NIV

Come live in me all my life, take over
Come breathe in me, I will rise on eagle’s wings

Lord, help me to have that kind of faith to let You take the lead in my life.

Empathy: the missing link between pain and hope.

We usually celebrate those who rise above the storm. Winners who thrive in terrible situations in their lives. I do too. I love champions like that. But some of us find it difficult to accept that there are people who love God dearly, who don’t blame God for their terrible situations in life, would still be sad, or even depressed.

One thing I felt uncomfortable and confused with the messages I received from certain Christian articles, some sermon messages, and well-meaning Christians, etc. is—the quick downplay of one’s emotions, situations (whatever it is), and the emphasis on perspective, God’s Hope, faith…The keywords here are: quick downplay.

I know that He is in control. I know about changing our perspectives. I know about choosing our responses. I know all that. And we do need to have that and live it out.

But it doesn’t take away the emotions and pain, certainly not the situation. It’s hard to choose a good response to not cry when you are bleeding.

For me at my low point of life, being ‘preached’ that we should focus on God (while this is true), makes me struggle even worse. It makes me struggle with my struggles. That the sadness must be taken away because, you know, God is hope. It makes me feel guilty that I’m feeling sad when I have so many things to be joyful for.
It makes me feel—less than a Christian.

Don’t get me started that yeah, guilt doesn’t come from God, it comes from Satan, yada yada. I. know. that.

In our zealousness to guide people back on track—have we moved too fast to point people to the bigger picture—unconsciously downplayed the complexity of emotions, and therefore desensitised pain?

Is it any wonder that people are lonely in their pain in a world of fixer-uppers?

 

When we acknowledge people’s pain in their weakest moment, we give them strength and hope because—someone understands.

Do that often enough, chances are the person will have enough strength to rise, one step at a time.


I cried at this scene. I can relate to me, to my daughter, to the many others who are struggling. It’s one of the reasons why I never say ‘chin up!’ to people.


I have the tremendous blessings of a handful of people who were coal bearers during my current winter season in life. These are the precious people who literally and figuratively sat beside me when I have no more words and no more tears to shed. God gave me His strength through them. Receiving the comfort on my bleeding wound, I can then better hear the message of hope. So, I wanna say thank you to each of you. You know who you are.

God is giving us the opportunity to be His vessel. Can we learn to be empathetic to a hurting person in need?

Don’t go through (and don’t let someone go through) pain alone.

sadness

I remember the feeling when I plunged into something like depression, and I didn’t know who to turn to.

It felt like I’m drowning in this dark void of awful loneliness. So alone. Like everything inside of me, my soul, just sinking into this pool of black ink. Everywhere I look, pitch black—a potent cocktail of desperation and violent rage.

I’ve been wrongly taught by the world that emotions and feelings are not to be trusted. So, I’ve learnt to box them up.

Unknowingly, I became an expert in compartmentalising my pain. I didn’t do it on purpose, somewhere along my life, I just learnt how to function normally.

I went to work ‘normally’, I led my team ‘normally’, I went to church ‘normally’, I laughed ‘normally’, however, I was everything but normal. I was crumbling, and my days just became harder and harder.

I didn’t know how to open up. Who to turn to that won’t:
Judge
Preach
Advise
Tell
Condemn
or worse, ask me to justify my feelings.

I tried to rationalise it away. My problems are small compared to the world.

I tried to pray it away. But the sadness stayed.

I tried to coat it with Words from the Bible. Nothing sticks.

I tried to escape it with Frasier. The laughter lasted only as long as the sitcom.

I felt guilty and weak for feeling this way. I asked myself mockingly, “are you being melodramatic?”

Chin up! The world says.

In fact, someone brutally commented on my blog, “try not to be too dramatic!” I felt at once ashamed that I may be emotional. But angry too, for being judged.

Herein lies the problem.

Some of us are just too quick to pass comments based on our views.

Some of us, too busy to pause and listen.

We have talkers, speakers, self-help, no-help, preachers, teachers.

But we need more listeners. People to listen without passing judgement.

Because pain is lonely.


The shortest verse in the Bible is—

Jesus wept

He is not dispassionate. He is empathetic in our weakness. He does not tell us to be less dramatic nor fault us for feeling sad. It is ok not to be ok. We can draw comfort from knowing that.

 

Don’t apologise for mourning, grieving or weeping. God comes into our pain and feels with us. He will also bring along the right people to walk alongside with us through this wall. Please reach out.

And if you know someone who is going through a tough time in life, please reach out to them.

We don’t need to be a counsellor, but we can be a friend, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on.

We can be the one to give an encouraging smile, send an encouraging note, deliver a bouquet of flowers or chocolates maybe, or just offer help.

We may not be able to offer solutions to people’s situation, but we can be a comforting presence in the midst of their pain.


If you think this article can be useful to someone, please share.

Struggling with anger and sadness.

anger

Major drama—This is how I feel in my head.

image
image
image
image
image
image
image
image

But, life must go on. This is how I need to exhibit self-control in front of people, especially at work.

image

While I’m struggling with these, I struggle with God.

In your anger, do not sin. Let go, let God.

These rage, these sense of injustice, these wanting to burst into tears in public, these loneliness of not knowing who to talk to, who can I trust not to judge? And this thought of I should first deal with this with God, and not run to other people. But, I’m having trouble keeping calm and acting as normal as possible. It’s like this darkness trying to fill up the white space, and it feels good to let it be. Yet, I know I must stand guard and not let the Devil have a foothold of my weakness.

Dear Lord, help.

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.—Isaiah 40:31

Quietly wait on God, study his word, pray, worship and meditate on his love for you. He will restore you, re-energise you and empower you to face everything you need to do.