When You’re Just Raw?

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We sat around the dinner table last night and tried to have a conversation.  Well, I tried to get a conversation started.  We could have had our usual banter but, some days I just can’t take banter.

Phat had a bad day at work, the kids were all dealing with individual struggles and I…well, I wasn’t moving too well.  So I asked, “How do you deal with disappointments in your life?  I mean, we all have them.  I’m not talking about the daily stuff, I’m talking about the deep struggles of overcoming.  Dreams that have been dashed, hopes that have been lost, desires that will never be fulfilled…what do you do with them?”

Now, maybe our struggles were too fresh to think that one through.  But.  We all seemed to be at a loss.  We had our usual answers yet somehow, the “lonely days without the sun…if through sorrows, more like You I become”…well, that just wasn’t cutting it.  We were feeling a bit raw.

So, I’m asking you.  What do you do with deep struggles?  Have you had any in your life?  (I know some things cannot be discussed, I’m not asking for details.)  How did you overcome when the raw pain caused you to want to quit, but you knew you couldn’t?  Please know, we’re all Christians (praise Him) so it’s not a matter of needing Him.  I’m thinking we just need some practical things we can do to keep our minds above the hurt.  Any advice?

I’m off to Bible Study so I won’t be interacting until this afternoon, but I really would like your input.

So…whatcha got?

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34 responses »

  1. HUGE question, Michelle.

    This really speaks to the core of sin does it not? Is not sin (our attempts to satisfy our fleshly cravings) really an attempt to ignore or numb the pain that is ever present, brimming right below the surface of our lives? Don’t we systematically and deliberately try to numb the pain, ignore the pain, pretend it doesn’t exist?

    I think before we deal with the pain of our struggles and disappointments, we really need to come to grips with the fact that we are in pain. We do have disappointments that grip us. If we’re honest, we are aware of the pain. I believe these people often look like they are messes. But what a gift to be aware of our own fragile place in this whole existence.

    Acknowledge the pain; explore and understand where it comes from; admit our own personal role in the circumstance; and finally cling to hope.

    There is much freedom in understanding our true standing before God; naked and unashamed. Unworthy, yet fearfully and wonderfully made.

  2. “What do you do with deep struggles?”

    I like the general description Bad gave:

    Acknowledge the pain; explore and understand where it comes from; admit our own personal role in the circumstance; and finally cling to hope.

    Specifically, I acknowledge the pain by confessing it to myself and others. My exploration is usually time spent putting words to that pain. Whatever one’s exploration looks like, I think it is time spent listening for Him and ultimately, listening to Him.

  3. i choose NOT to ignore them… i choose not to act like they aren’t there.

    i choose to face them. to ask “why.” to struggle through them… and to continue to believe there’s something waiting for me on the other side.

    from glory to glory….

  4. Pray.

    God wants to have deep conversations with you. He wants to hear about how raw you. It’s interesting that you use the word “raw”, it has the ring of a wound. God still heals. Just talk to Him.

  5. Hi, just happened to see your blog and I read a few other posts on it. You have gone through something that is more than words can bear….?

    I have had my world hit about. I thought I was to spend my life in the full time Christian ministry but it wasn’t to be. After 12 years and a serious illness it all fell apart. We had no home and no job and the future was, and still is, not what I was expecting.

    But Jesus has never let us down though we have had to revise courses and chart new waters and downshft our expectations. We are homeward bound and this life so often hits us, seemingly off course.

    Drink deep in the grace of today. Whatever your heartache He will use it for His good purposes.

    I now minister while working full time. Still dogged by depression but by His grace with my head above water and seeing beautiful things in our fellowhip.

    These are days of grace and wonder.

    May the Lord bless you, His face shine upon you and may he grant you peace..

  6. I have theories … but I don’t think I’ve walked through anything this deep.

    My Mom died young … that is probably the biggest loss I’ve faced. Thinking about the fact that my husband only knew her for a couple years … my kids will never know her (in this life). My brothers’ wives-to-be will never know her … all the richness that she had to offer is cut short. It is a big disappointment. None of it has crushed me, though. I see eternity like a giant screen across the sky, enveloping this moment with such immenseness that all of my moments of sorrow, loneliness, disappointment, lack, seem small in comparison. Do they seem small because I look at it this way, or are they small already (compared to other people’s trials)? I don’t know that answer. I do think that Paul’s admonitions to “fix our eyes” and “think on these things” (you know the references) go a long way – much farther than it appears they would on the surface. So much about this life is a matter of perspective – and if you look at things through His perspective, that is when you overcome. He is not crushed when we are (although he feels our hurts). He knows the end of the story – and still rejoices over us with joy; still calls His words “good news” in the midst of our very bad news.

    That is what I have. Be blessed, sister.

  7. To be clear, my biggest struggles are recognizing how I have failed others. Certainly I’ve had my shared dumped on me; but at the end of the day I’ve dealt many lethal blows to countless people (figuratively, emotionally, spiritually).

    That is my biggest struggle, and I contend that this is true for all of us.

  8. Hi Michelle, I’m not very good at facing deep struggles. I tend to collapse on my bed and cry until I want to die, and when I really want to die I start crying out to God.

    And without fail, He reaches down, wraps me in His incredible arms, comforts me and brings me peace- literally a peace that I cannot understand, but so that I can get up and carry on again.

    The verse of my life at this stage is: The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms… (deut 33:27) I read somewhere that the Hebrew root for ‘underneath’ is the idea of beaten down, at the bottom, the uttermost limit, and underneath everything.

    So when we are so low, that we feel no-one and nothing can reach us, isn’t it incredible to know His arms are there? And I have fallen on those arms many times and they never tire, they always lift me up.

    So i’m not very good with the practical, I’m sorry, but I will pray for The Everlasting Arms to carry you, to wrap you up, and to comfort you. Love ripplegirl

  9. “I’m thinking we just need some practical things we can do to keep our minds above the hurt.”

    Pillowfights. And a dram of scotch. And my dog Sam. And my dog Louie. And an afternoon nap on a rainy day. And a phone call from a blogging friend who just wants to check up on me. (Thanks, Friend! 😉 ) And tiger balm–especially for a sprained ankle. And Twinkees…

    …Come to think of it, sometimes a picture of “Twinkee the Kid” is all I need. (What’s with that dude anyway?)

    Or just seeing Mandy from Georgia and Cathi from Ohio and Alece the native New Yawkah on a New England shore…doing something with a…something.

    Or just standing outside in the rain, feeling the drops from above cleanse my soul with each cold drenching. (You ever stand outside in the rain with no fear? Very liberating. VERY.)

    And sometimes, it’s just knowing that every day is a new day, filled with new opportunities, new hopes, new dreams…

    …and new friends. 😉

  10. As a believer, I need to rest in the sovereignty of God – not glibly recite Romans 8:28, but include verses 29 & 30 that offer promises far beyond human comprehension, but settled in the councils of heaven before worlds began. Even that can sound like a cliché.

    I remember losing a son to an automobile accident and after much ‘grief processing’ becoming somewhat settled in the knowledge that he was God’s first and we had been blessed to have him for but a few moments in time.

    That was by far the toughest one. My bride’s cancer runs a close 2nd (14 yr survivor). The rest pale in comparison. All the pop-psychology ‘methods’ of analyzing/processing/self-help/12-step programs don’t amount to a hill of beans.

    I don’t think sin is the issue here either. There was no sin in Christ when He agonized and sweat blood in the Garden and asked if there was another way, remove the cup. The only sin involved was the sin of God’s elect for whom He would soon bear the full weight of His Fathers wrath.

    What do you do? Pray until you have prayed. . . and I will pray with you. . .

  11. I’m glad you asked this question, Michelle. What a lot of wisdom and truth people are sharing. I’m going to settle in here and learn. 🙂

    Last night in bed, I was crying out to God on an issue that I’m struggling with. The main thing that kept going through my mind was “Be still and know that I am God.” That sure doesn’t come naturally to me… my mind is always churning. I struggled to quiet myself, and to let it all rest on the Almighty’s shoulders. I struggled to let it all go, even for a few minutes, and let Him be in control and handle it… knowing that I couldn’t add an hour to my life through my worry and that all my thinking wouldn’t change a thing, but that He can handle it all. I tried to lean not on my own understanding, but to acknowledge Him and be directed by Him. Wow, that did NOT come easily!

  12. Oh, my. You guys have shared some wonderful things. I want to get to each of you, and will, but now I’m a bit overwhelmed…

    Please keep it coming if you have more to share. I’m soaking it all in, as I’m sure others are as well. 😉

  13. I got some practical ideas. I like to lay down and pray…sometimes I fall asleep…resting the body, mind, and soul helps. I’ll sometimes take a shower or bath and pray. Notice how prayer is a big part of dealing with pain?

    I think there is also a time and place for wine for the stomach. After all, Solomon reminds us throughout proverbs that a little wine for the stomach never hurts. I’m not condoning alcoholism, so please do not misunderstand me, but God does give us things in this world to ease the burden of this painful, sin-filled life.

    Tim Van Arsdale
    Author, You’ve Got Spam! a refreshing collection of e-mails regarding mercy ministry

  14. Oh my sweet friend! I haven’t told you today that I love you, and I do!

    In the past, struggles weren’t a problem, I just walked away, slammed the door, and refused to look back. I seriously am living that reputation down as we speak…

    A couple years ago, our marriage went through a rough spot, and my first thought was just walk out the door slam it real good and don’t look back…but because of who I am now, my spirit was screaming for the Only One who could fix me…and honestly I cried a long time on the lap of my Father, and HE would not let me walk away, or slam the door, or refuse to lookk at it…instead HE made me look at its face. He walked it every minute with me…so long story short…I learned that when I don’t know the answer, and I don’t have a clue how to respong in Christ..I cry out to HIM, and force my self to choose HIS way…regardless of advice, regardless of how I feel about it…and HE will honor it and help me through the rest. I guess surrender is the word I am looking for.

    Disappointments can put me in a tale spin…I am still learning to hold on to HIM for dear life…when everyone else seems to let me down…HE is always for me, always ready to jump in, and carry me when I don’t think I can move…I know you were probably looking for something else..but this what is on my heart…I think God/Jesus fully understand our disappointments, our betrayals, and fully knows what it is like to have to overcome…the beauty is HE did not leave us to do it alone…we have supernatural power to hold on, and to overcome..we just don’t know how to use it. (at least I don’t)

  15. Hey, Bad Guy! Yes we do “systematically and deliberately try to numb the pain, ignore the pain, pretend it doesn’t exist?” It never works. To understand our true standing before God makes all the difference…amen. He is the lifter of our heads. Thanks.

    Hello, Ric. I find the words you’ve used to express pain very helpful. I love your poetry. “Dawn in Washington DC” was poignant. Thank you.

    Yes, Mandy. I don’t understand trying to ignore struggles. It will only come back to bite you. I love the thought from glory to glory…it’s all about that!

    Hello, Grace. Yeah, I chose the word raw because it is a deep wounding we are overcoming. But it is still raw and may be for a very long time. Those deep talks with God have gotten us through. Thanks for the reminder.

    Hello, Vimto. Welcome to my blog and thank you for choosing to be so vulnerable. I can hear your struggle and feel it as well. “Drink deep in the grace of today.” Love it! Thanks.

    Dear Annie, you have walked through something I have not yet had to endure. I am sorry about the loss of your mother. Yes, the expanse of eternity as our backdrop does make this life seem very small and is a proper perspective. Fixing our eyes…thank you!

    Hey Ripple Girl! I react much the same and am so thankful for His arms. It is what has gotten us through. Yeah, I’m NOT too good with the practical either but, I SO appreciate your prayers. You’re beautiful.

    Hey, Friend. Love it…ALL of it. You have learned how to endure more than anyone I’ve met. I take your practical advice as great help. You always speak to me, Nor. And those girls you mentioned…made me laugh out loud today! Thanks.

    Oh, Dan. Thank you for saying what you did. Your life has been a testament to our God. I admire the work of the Spirit in you. Some day, when I get even crustier 😯 I want to shine as bright as you. Thank you for your prayers especially.

    Yes, Heidi, to cry out to God in the darkness and hear Him say “lean not on your own understanding.” Beautiful. Not at all easy but so freeing. I know you hear me. Yeah, I’m settling in and soaking up this wisdom as well…

    Hello Tim. I do notice how prayer is the biggest part of dealing with pain. 😉 Can’t bring myself to drink though, never could. But I do enjoy the wonders of His creation. The redeeming power of His Spirit has been my source for the burden of sin. Thanks for stopping by.

    Hey Princess! “Disappointments can put me in a tale spin…I am still learning to hold on to HIM for dear life…when everyone else seems to let me down…HE is always for me, always ready to jump in, and carry me when I don’t think I can move…” I love this, Darla. He is the MOST faithful. Thank you.

    Hey, Sam! Yes…if I could write a poem that speaks like yours, I just might try. Serving others…wow. Yes, very practical and exactly what I needed to be told. Thank you.

  16. I could give you a laundry list, but I’m going to respect you at your word and NOT give details.

    Lately, I find myself quoting finding Nemo and hearing ellen degenerous’ voice saying “just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” Sometimes, I pop he dvd in to hear it while I work around the house.

    Oh, and I also pull bible versus from memory. Sorta let the spirit flow as it naturally does with me in times of stress. I become a JESUS fa-reak when times are hard. Lordy… lordy apple pie, I’ll drive church people crazy with all my bible talk.

    🙂

    Thanks for this post and for askin’.

  17. Tracy, “just keep swimming!” I LOVE it!! And the bible verses, you are speaking my thoughts!!! Thank you. Praying with you! 🙂

    Thanks, Nor! 😉

  18. A timely subject for me today, Michelle. Thanks. Enjoying your blog as usual. The rawness hit us today when we found out Patrick broke his other hip, and so tomorrow we find out when it will be operated on. This is the second time since February. Timely in that the other has healed enough to support this broken one.

    My first response (other than a couple of tears) was God has a plan and it is for me to see the bigger picture. Hard sometimes when you struggle but God is good to me in that He always ALWAYS shows me He is there. No matter how many obstacles have come our way in the past year (no income, no insurance, poor health, etc) I have never once doubted He is there and that sometimes a circuitous route is necessary to achieve a greater goal.

    It IS all in His hands, and I am thankful He has shown me that even though things fall apart, I am intact in His love.

  19. I am a man… When I struggle I try to fix it. That is what I am suppose to do fix the problem.

    For 2 years after my Dad died that is what I set about to do.. Fix my self… I poured myself into work, I poured myself into myself. I was going to fix me if I had to get myself out of the way to fix my problem, all by myself. I was going to fix the hurt. I was going to fix the pain. I was going to fix the anger.

    What…What’s that….What do you mean I can’t do anything?

    If you have read my blog for any period of time you have seen my testimony and you have seen me write about my Dad.

    God spoke to me a little of 2 years ago… IT IS OK… God poured himself into me.

    Now when I struggle I don’t pour myself into anything. I let God pour himself into me. I can do nothing when I struggle and IT IS OK!!!

  20. I just wrote a post about offering up a sacrifice of praise to God. During this time of grieving in my life, that is what has helped me to get through. I still feel sad and down but God’s spirit is what is getting me through. Without Him, I don’t think I would have made it past the first day.

    I’ve found that it’s helped to stay busy. Talking to friends. Working on specific projects. Walking in the park. Taking a drive listening to some of my favorite music. It helps.

    Love you Sis. Thank you for being a part of my grieving process. I praise God for you.

  21. Oh, Vicki! I’ve been hoping y’all were recuperating. Now you get to do it all over again! Yes, “even though things fall apart, I am intact in His love.” I love the way you turn a phrase. I will purposefully pray for you and Patrick. ♥ U.

    Yes, Carl. Men DO try to fix EVERYTHING!! Allowing God to pour Himself into us, thank you. I’ve needed to hear that.

    I love you, Gchyayles. So many good thoughts. I need to turn my music back on and maybe do some paintings. Thank you for letting me be there. You are a true friend, dear one.

  22. Have my dreams ever been dashed? Perhaps I have become numb. I have gone through little things. My mom died, but it was God’s way of saving her and I expected it. He prepared me for it so that when she called to say she had melanoma, I nodded my head sadly and said, “Okay.” One of our daughters has hypermobility syndrome and is always in pain. It is very sad, but I just homeschool her and love her. Three of us get migraines, which feel life-threatening but aren’t. I shouldn’t even mention them. We’ve had relationship struggles in many places, with yelling and anger, small hurts and deeper wounds, but God just keeps carrying us through them. I wanted to be a teacher but that didn’t work out. In classrooms my allergies are so bad my ears and throat have sharp pains and I get a bad migraine. It’s not like I could do that every day. Our other daughter’s migraines were so bad I pulled her out of school, so I am finding ways to take care of her, too. I really have nothing to complain about, nothing to wear heavy on my heart. But someday something awful could happen. I’d be okay. How much longer can this world go on anyway? We have heaven to look forward to, and God is Sovereign.

  23. Speaking as one lonely atheist out here, this dialogue comes across as being utterly alien. I know you are all lovely people looking for a satisfactory path through life, just like me, but you speak a language to each other that, although rooted in English, is incomprehensible in a reason-based environment. It reminds me a lot of the descriptions of the muslim cross-talk in Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s harrowing account of her childhood in several muslim societies, and the physical and mental price exacted in exchange for unquestioning belief in what are ultimately mortal interpretations of archaic, and fundamentally erroneous scripts and scriptures.

    It’s all yours.

  24. Hi jdlarge08: comparing Islam to Christianity is waaaay out of the reasoned debate you expound. While far from perfect Christianity does not have an ideological violent bent against it’s women folk, and nothing comparable to violent Jihad.

    By their fruits you may know them….. its not just about what we say but how we live.

    …and yes us Christians are a strange lot. Just sinners saved by grace. Nothing more.

    There is no need to be a lonely athiest. You can be a child of God and part of a holy fellowhip…..Why not ask Jesus if he will reveal himself to you?

    Godbless.

  25. And accidents. No, seriously. Accidents help me stay above the pain. Well, sometimes. But they remind me that this minor inconvenience–like spilled milk–is really nothing to be upset about.

    And I learn to slow down…

    …and take my time…

    …and clean up my mess.

    And exactly that much is right with the world. 😉

  26. I haven’t read through everything here…but seeing the people who responded, I know I need to come back….and read the awesomeness that has taken place…

    For me I try to handle everything myself. The bigger the problem the more effort I put into it…that works for about 30 minutes…then He begins to tap on my shoulder.

    I have had many struggles in my life, but He is faithful…I have come to trust Him with my life, and while I may question why at times, I am getting quicker with laying it at His feet and leaving it there. THat process began years ago with laying it at His feet, and picking it back up several times til He finally pried my white knuckle grip off of it…LOL But the struggles turn to peace….when He is in it. WHen I choose to praise, when I really believe that He will bring everything about for His glory….when I really understand that He had it on His mind as He hung on the cross and it’s paid for in full….

    Love you, and pray for you consistantly…you are an amazing child of God.

  27. As a former Muslim, I thought it was important for me to respond to part of the discussion.

    Jdlarge08~I didn’t quite understand the comparison you made. I haven’t read the book you were talking about but I do know the depth of oppression and bondage that Muslims [both women and men] face which comes unfortunately from their belief in a non-existent god. I prayed for a very long time to Allah without being heard or responded to. The oppression wasn’t just the socio-religious kind but the mental and spiritual kind where hopelessness was at the core of any worship and prayer.

    I converted to Christianity two and a half years ago. If you’d like to read more about my testimony/journey, feel free to stop by my blog. What I do want to say is that when I came to know Jesus, I was freed from the bondage of Islam: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. For me, there is no comparison but a life-altering difference: I now know the one and only, true, living God.

    I pray for God’s blessings in your life. Thank you for reading my testimony.

  28. Hi Michelle,
    Thank you for this post that really gets you thinking 🙂
    Struggle and disappointment. I am not too good at dealing with either of these. A sense of anger deep down is often there as a response. That and trying to shoulder it on my own. I am working on coming to God a lot quicker, God is helping to grow my faith again, just because God literally gives a peace that goes beyond my understanding regarding these things, and also, He makes sense of them. There is always a point with God, and it lifts me knowing that. Love you Michelle.

  29. Hey Y’all!

    This post has definitely struck a nerve with lots of y’all. I’m glad to know so many of you have looked deeply into the provision God gives. Sometimes it’s easy to feel you’re all alone in pain when the only words we hear are “positive” voices seemingly trying to push back “negative” ones. Please DON’T GET ME WRONG. I’m not saying positive words are wrong. Laughing is fun…I do it LOTS! But as someone with much wisdom pointed out:

    Rejoice, and men will seek you;
    Grieve, and they turn and go;
    They want full measure of your pleasure,
    But they do not need your woe.

    We do tend to push the hurting away and it’s not what we’ve been told in scripture. We are to bear one another’s burdens and weep with those who weep. So, I thank you all for your words of support and encouragement, your insights into going deep with God and your helps for living above the pain when it gets old. Y’all have been a huge help to me.

    Thanks!!

    I put up a song from Casting Crowns that has ministered to me recently. Hope it does for you as well.

    Much ♥ to you ALL!

  30. JDLarge08 #25:

    Okay. Um. Well…Maybe avoiding a dram of scotch I could understand, but…

    …Pillowfights and phone calls are alien…? 😕

    Of course, there is nothing rational about a pillowfight at my age, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to make the most of it.

  31. Good morning Michelle…

    I cry, I write, I pray, I talk to my loved ones, I cry, I pray, I laugh, I think, I drink coffee, I write, I pray, I reflect, etc.

    I do many things…

    But I try to always to face my problems, not run from them.

    However, there are times that I ‘overface’ them, because I would eventually realize that they are not worth the attention I’m giving them. So the struggle for me is evaluating my problems, which I should tackle, and which I should simply let go…

  32. The “overfacing” is definitely what I do. I know the truth and I know where my strength comes from, but I do tend to think way too much. Actually, I believe it’s called worry, in my case.

    We sound much the same, Sherma. Thanks for commenting. 😉

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