Saturday, September 04, 2010

When Counting Your Blessings Doesn't Help the Pain

Sometimes we get so focused on the "bad" in life, we forget to see the "good". Have you had that? It takes a friendly nudge from someone or scripture to remind us of all the good things in our lives.

But there are times when a loss occurs that we simply are not comforted by the many blessings in our life. Let me tell you a story.

Imagine you were skiing with a friend. Can you tell I have winter on my mind??? I haven't felt weather this cold in five years! Back to skiing. So you're coasting down the hill and suddenly WHAMMO, you wipe out and hear a sickening crunch.

Here you are....ouch.

Lying in the snow you feel excruciating pain. Your right arm is hanging limply and you can't move it.
Your friend swooshes gracefully on down to you. She looks at you lying there and says, "How's your arm? Looks pretty bad."


She continues, "I know it hurts, but look on the bright side, your left arm is fine! Let me see your legs...yup, they look good too. You're going to be fine. You should be thankful nothing else is hurt."

You realize there's a lot of truth in her words and yes, you really are thankful nothing else is hurt. But you can't get over the excruciating pain in your right arm to even feel thankfulness. You are almost ignorant of the other limbs' existance. Her words bring you no comfort. No consolation. It seems like she is dismissing the agony that you are in.

Those who have suffered loss or in difficult situations often feel like this. Nobody wants the loss to consume them, but pain or sorrow overpowers. There is a time where one has to deal with grief before they can move on.

What do you say to someone who is going through loss or sorrow? There may be many times that it is appropriate to point out the blessings they still have, but often a person needs comfort. Spiritual comfort. Reminders of God's faithfulness and love for His children. Texts that remind us of God's character when everything seems blurred. Physical and emotional comfort is needed. Come alongside someone and let them know you care. You don't need to feel like you need to fix it (most likely you can't) or point out the silver lining in the cloud (even though there very well may be one).

Now, back to you lying in the snow. Do you need her to try to fix the arm? It would be nice, but no, she can't. Do you need her to point out that all of your other limbs are fine? Although it may be true, it doesn't help the pain at that moment. Your friend could bring you a lot more consolation by sitting down beside you and waiting with you for help to come.

So many of us are uncomfortable with the helpless feeling we have as we watch others go through trials. Sometimes I even avoid people going through hard things because I have no idea what to say. I don't want to sound trivial or be insensitive. But I have learned a lot from others this year. It has been an immeasurable comfort to have my family and friends stick by us even though they can do nothing to "fix" Calvin's needs.

I remember people's words and actions distinctly and they often replay in my mind.

I'll never forget my sister saying, "I want to walk this with you." Or a close friend stopping by and dropping off a basket of goodies for our other kids and a coffee treat for us, just to show they care.

It brings comfort to have people stop us and say, "How are you doing? How is Calvin?" It warms my heart when people want to hold him and touch his soft hair. One of the most helpful visits we had was from a couple who just sat and listened and offered comfort from God's Word.

I don't say these things because I'm an expert at consolation. Rather, I've learned as we've been on the receiving end of it. It has brought our family so much comfort to have others standing by, praying and caring in various ways.


Anonymous said...

Kara Amen is all I can say! I think this was our exact conversation earlier this week. May God be with you!
Love you guys,
Becky Kwekel

Hansens said...

Great analogy. It's interesting how far it can be taken. Even the fact that the pain doesn't go away as soon as the medical team shows up. Many times there is more pain before and after the wound is cared for. The reality of life during the "recovery" time is drastically harder to manage. Some times it changes our world permanently, it even can isolate us because some things we just can't do anymore. There are some things that leave scars that will always remind us of what we went through. Sometimes we are almost glad for the scars (not the pain) because it helps us see the significance of what has happened. Life can't go on as before because it has changed the shape of who we are. We are never the same.

Great post.
Love you guys, Think of you often. Praying for your clan. Rene and I Miss you guys. Look forward to an update on how Calvin is doing, what the future looks like and how you're doing.

Tell Darryl I got the Circular saw out of the storage room.

KarenKTeachCamb said...

Thanks Kara. You have a great way of expressing things. Love you heaps, and like Joe & Rene, I look forward to the next Calvin update. Miss you, even though I'm not at Logos anymore.

Christy said...

Thanks for sharing this, Kara. I guess we naturally want to sort of "cheer up" a person who is in pain ... probably just to make ourselves feel better. But I'm pretty sure if someone pointed out any silver lining while I was suffering as you are, I'd want to punch them in the nose.

Praying for rest and peace.