She said to me "Felicia you're talking as though it'll end. And that might be, but what if it doesn't? What if everyday you have to wake up and navigate the pain? What will you do then?"
There are some kinds of pain that end. When you stub your toe, it hurts (especially if it's that pinky toe!) but you grimace because you know it'll end momentarily. If you have a headache, you either wait it out or pop an ibuprofen, waiting for it to kick in. The thought of knowing the pain will end makes it bearable. You can wait. But what happens with the pain that has no end in sight? What if there is no countdown clock? What happens then?
That kind of pain requires a different kind of attention. For pain with an expiration date, the best thing to do is wait until that date. You can carry the full weight of that pain daily until that date because you know you'll never have to carry it past then. For pain without an expiration date, the best thing to do is take it one day at a time, sometimes one moment to the next. You can't carry the full weight on a daily basis indefinitely because it'll crush you. You develop a daily tolerance for the pain and carry as much as you can for that day.
What I've learned is that these kinds of pain are the pains that we must cast upon God because we weren't meant to carry that kind of weight by ourselves. There is a reason why Jesus told us to trade our burdens and yokes for His (Matthew 11:30). I believe He was talking about these kinds of pain--the ones that no pain relievers can alleviate.
I'll never wake up and stop feeling the pain of missing my father. That kind of pain has to be navigated on a daily basis because it is a part of me. But the great thing is I don't have to be crushed by it or consumed by it because of the trading of burdens I can do daily with Jesus. That doesn't mean it won't hurt. That doesn't mean I won't miss him. That doesn't mean that there won't be days when I feel like staying in the bed and crying all day. It does mean that in these moments I'm not alone. There is no expiration date but Jesus' invitation doesn't expire either.
A little less than a year later, the pain of my breakup feels as fresh as it did the day it happened. But no expiration date doesn't mean no hope. It doesn't mean no freedom. It does mean that I will wake up each day carrying less than I did the day before.
The pain of abandonment and rejection and insecurity and loss and fear and isolation and a million other things I can't even name do not have expiration dates. Some of them may very well end before my time on earth does, but some of them may go with me. And that's okay. I have someone in my corner that will be with me until then, and even beyond.
So whatever the cause for your indefinite pain, know that there is a God that exists outside of time that is willing to bear it with you.
Until next time,