We're back home in Texas and I'm unpacking the California bounty. . .mostly California bounty involves dear people and the conversations swirling in my mind. . .
But this morning when I pulled bread out of the freezer for my favorite breakfast, jam and toast-I lined up the jars of California's bounty, gifted and carried home to Texas: apricot jam, apricot chutney, Santa Rosa plum jam, Gravenstein applesauce.
So-in my warm Texas Kitchen, I spread apricot manna on crunchy toast, poured coffee in my favorite cup and thought about another visit. . .sometime. And I'm thankful
"Good communication is like strong coffee and just as hared to sleep after."
Yesterday afternoon my husband made me a deal, "I'll mow the front and back if you buy the mulch, 4 bags, please" So, I agreed, bought and carried the mulch. . . And this morning, Aye my aching arms and shoulders! (maybe hauling mulch builds bone density?)
And my husband mowed like Indiana Jones in the blazing Texas sun.
We're mowing and trimming fiercely, getting ready to drive off tomorrow morning before dawn-headed for California to see family and friends.
I'm leaving behind an unfinished project. . .our Josu is 7 years old-the quilt I made him at birth got lost somewhere between Spain, Los Angeles and Mexico-nobody's to blame.
So, I decided to make him a new one; it looks a little more boyish than babyish and I hope he'll be surprised. Just maybe I'll finish the quilting before he comes to visit this summer.
Last week I read Proverbs 4. . .rocking the needle in and out, with tiny stitches, I prayed for sweet Josu and for all my grandchildren, words of truth:
My son, give attention to my words, incline your ear to my sayings;
do not let them depart from your sight, keep them in the midst of your heart. . .
watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
This morning I read Psalm 102- ". . .My days have been consumed in smoke, and my bones have been scorched like a hearth. My heart has been smitten like grass and has withered away. . .for I have eaten ashes like bread and mingled my drink with weeping. . ."
And there in faded pen in the margin, I read my personal commentary, Much Affliction!
How do we deal with emotional and physical pain and do it together? Sometimes I'm on the outside of a friend's pain but other times, like the voice of Psalm 102, I'm on the inside. . .
Joni Eareckson Tada wrote A Place of Healing while in the vice grip of unrelenting pain; from the inside she tells us, "When we are hit hard with pain, our tendency is to go on and on about our pain, problem. . . sometimes we talk way too much about ourselves."
I'm thinking about a wise man's words, "For every one sentence you say to others about your pain, say 10 sentences about your God."
On the other end, a woman in pain may be stoic; she speaks not at all about her pain.
Granted, some pain is easier to speak about. . . My tooth is aching versus my heart is broken. God appointed my pain-it shapes me. So, I share. . .
When we suffer, God is working to create in us a deeply affectionate, caring heart; from the inside, don't waste the opportunity to bare the burdens of others, to listen to pray.
Many years ago a series of painful events changed the course of our life; back then- I thought that John and I were alone on the inside of pain. But now I know that people on the sidelines of our pain were actually on the inside of their own. . .
We hope to meet those dear folks, soon- to talk about it after 25 years.
And then maybe I'll write a post. . .
We deal with pain together by being devoted to one another in love
My friend called to tell me about her life, to share a devastating affliction; I set down my cup, for a moment I couldn't breathe. I haven't experienced her trial. . .but my life isn't over yet.
So-as Christ followers, how do we deal with emotional and physical pain and do it together?
"The Christian life can be impersonal, stuffy, when we rehearse theology at one another rather than living it with one another." (Jim Andrews, Polishing God's Monuments)
Pain isolates and confuses us--we deal with pain together by loving one another, by being devoted to one another in love. Sometimes I'm on the inside dealing with pain, and other times I'm on the outside.
Right now I'm on the outside. . .my dear friend weeps, so I weep.
Here's some thoughts from a talk I gave to the women at my church a few months ago.
1. When dealing with pain from the outside- pray that God will help you move into the lives of others with love-gently,, persistently, creatively. We don't always know when a person is in pain; sometimes the pain is visible, sometimes invisible but still a reality. Even if God removes the pain, heals or gives relief from pain, our dear one lives with the affect of pain, the memory and it's real (like Job's loss of children, new children didn't take away the pain.)
2. . . from the outside- You will not love your suffering friend well by minimizing her pain or by trying to fix it quickly. Some pain has no remedy until the day when all tears are wiped away.
3. . . from on the outside- Come near, make sacrifices to be there. Tell your friend, "I'm with you and I'll be around for a long time."
In Psalm 13 God asks the psalmist to wait, "How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever?" Your friend is dealing with pain, your presence helps her to wait.
Come near and weep with her; "When one member suffers, we all suffer together." (1 Cor 12:26)
Tell her, "God uses your pain in my life; your pain is changing me!"
Help your friend focus on today, living one day at a time. We all need grace for today.
And talk to God about her needs--sometimes we talk too much about God and not enough to God.
William Cooper was born in England in the mid 1700's. He came to saving faith in Jesus Christ as a young man; he wrote poetry and hymns for the church. During most of his life, Cooper struggled with depression and despair. John Newton was Cooper's pastor and faithful friend. Even when distance separated the two men, Newton wrote to Cooper, visiting him again and again, demonstrating love and patience to his friend.
Cooper said of Newton, "He did not despair of the despairing." (I want to be that kind of friend!)
"When pain is to be born, a little courage helps more than much knowledge,
a little human sympathy more than much courage,
and the least tincture of the love of God more than all."
( C.S. Lewis, from The Problem of Pain)
I haven't always loved others well from the outside. . .Ahh, to love with the least tincture of the love of God more than all.