A Word to the Fighters

10:02 AM

We come into this world screaming and fighting because the lights are bright and the air is cold and there we are, naked and wet and born. And as we grow up, we fight against life's little injustices (or just hurt from them, if we're not a firebrand like myself). We push back against dads telling us that, "Life isn't fair." Well, it should be. We cry harder when moms comfort us, "Time heals all wounds." All these platitudes about disaster and pain and suffering being, well, normal.

We don't want pain and suffering to be normal.

And in a sense, it isn't and it shouldn't be. Pain, suffering, death, hurt, tears of anguish -- they stem from a broken world, a sin-marred world, a world that rebelled and suffers the consequences. And we are all made for another world, as C. S. Lewis points out. A perfect world, a redeemed world, a world where a great Love wipes away all our tears and we never need to feel our heart break into sharp pieces again.

But in the here and the now...pain is normal.

I avoid all discomfort if I possible can, feeling relief when other sisters take over the after-dinner duties and relishing the day off and lying miserably somewhere in a crumple of bedsheets and pillows when I've got a minor cold. It takes great courage to do things like outline an English paper or ask a near stranger out to a cafeteria dinner or try out for something you're pretty sure you're no good at. And I don't even bother with things like running. The pain is just not worth it.

If I can't ignore pain, which is often, especially emotional pain, especially because I'm dating and love close friends, I wrestle with it. Which, ironically, gives me an even greater drubbing than if I just left it alone and kept plugging on with life. But no, I wrestle. I fight. I scream at it (yes, I'm pretty sure my soul gets hoarse from screaming at things I don't want in my life -- at least, that's how it feels).

It constantly bugs me -- what is this pain, why is it here, how can I get rid of it, why won't it go away. I know I just need to deal with it somehow instead of reenacting a tragic duel with suffering every time it pops up in my life.

The other day, I emailed my roomie about this semester's goals (which was, in a nutshell, to make more friends and allow me and my boyfriend more alone-time and friend-time-without-each-other). I told her I was excited about these goals, wanted to do them, but I didn't know if I really could because, well, Claire, Erich is my best friend and I'd rather spend every second with him if I could and I missed him terribly and that pain was real and silly but real and dogged me all the time when I wasn't distracted by something incredibly interesting.

She wrote back, "Bailey, it's okay for you to miss Erich." It's okay for you to go about your day feeling his absence. It's okay. You will survive just like every other time you survived. Missing is normal.

It's okay to feel pain, to feel loss, to feel lost, to feel icky things you'd rather not feel. It's okay -- your suffering is validated. It is real, it happens, and it is okay to feel its hurt. But it is also okay because pain will always be there in some form or another, but it doesn't have to cripple your life. World War III need not break out in your soul every time discomfort or sorrow twinges your joy. Suffering happens. Pain happens. Sickness happens. Insomnia happens. Arguments happen. Disappointment happens. And no, it's not normal in the sense that it's right in the sense that it's inherently good. But it is normal.

There are sufferings and pains that can be alleviated after a rousing battle. And there are sufferings and pains that need to be felt, processed, and let go. Mom was right -- time heals all wounds. Suffering produces joy, believe it or not. It deepens the soul. It grows beauty from ashes. In this broken world, that's how life works. That's how pain operates. Because there is a Redeemer who creates from the dust of a past perfect world.

If it's a pain that destroys, a depression that hinders, that's the sort of pain to fight against. But if it's a pain that nips away selfishness, that smooths out your flaws, that leads you closer to things truly good and beautiful and mostly to Him Himself, then I must learn to suffer well.

Because the sharp lights and the cold and the unfamiliarity just might mean that you're being born into an entirely new world.

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2 impressions

  1. What is the difference between fighting and suffering? Do you actually know someone who doesn't fight the pain? Such a person couldn't exist in this world. To assume such a person exists, indicates an unexamined portion of your life. Go on, analyze how a person, who doesn't fight the pain, can exist.

    I think such people do not exist. And even physical pain must be "fought" in a manner of speaking, or it will overthrow a person and destroy them. I have several friend's who have been addicted to prescription painkillers. And they tell me, their addiction was destroying their lives. In overcoming their addiction they had to endure the full extent of their pain. Fighting it, every moment, every day. They go about their daily lives, rather than curling into a ball.

    Just because I cannot see the struggle does not mean it is not every bit as intense as my own.

    "If it's a pain that destroys, a depression that hinders, that's the sort of pain to fight against. But if it's a pain that nips away selfishness, that smooths out your flaws, that leads you closer to things truly good and beautiful and mostly to Him Himself, then I must learn to suffer well."

    As if destroying selfishness, destroying flaws, destroying that which draws us away from the Lord were a different sort of pain than chronic physical pain or depression. Have you figured how to divide the "good" pain from the "bad" pain?

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  2. I love this post, Bailey. Wonderfully put. :)

    While enduring pain, it feels like it'll never end, and that's a horrible thing to experience. The worst part is you can't do anything about it and that feeling of helplessness just adds onto the pain. This post is a great reminder (that I definitely need on a regular basis ;) ) that pain isn't -all- bad and that it forms you instead of just breaking you down.

    Anyways, thanks for your words! :)

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