Family, Friendship, Memories

Processing Pain

Take in moments and don’t move on. Take it in so you can be wiser from your moments.

Denna Kastor 2004 Olympics Bronze Medalist

I am quoting Kastor’s words for the third time in two years because her words resonate with me. I regularly need to take in my moments and am more joyful when I do.

However, how do I process painful moments? I stuff. Down deep. Until a situation or a photograph or a spoken word evokes the pain. Or it pops to the surface for no apparent reason. (Like the night I wrote this blog.) Sometimes I have forgotten the pain for a long time.

I am learning to sit a few moments in both past and present pain and experience the emotions of loss or grief or disappointment or disregard or betrayal. To probe the extent of what happened and how it affected me. My forgiveness is superficial when I deny the cost.

To paraphrase Kastor:

Take in Pain and don’t move on. Take Pain in so you can be wiser from your Pain.

Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4

Friendship, Memories

Wound Openers (Reprise)

An innocent acquaintance opened an old wound with her simple question (see here). I understood my unexpected reaction, but what if I hadn’t?

One morning during a conversation among friends and acquaintances, one woman made a statement about World War II. Another disagreed. That seemed the end of it until one came to me and expressed her anger. Frequently, she encountered the woman who had disagreed with her. Each time, ugly, intense feelings overcame her. She wanted to forgive the woman—for what I thought was a benign statement.

I gave some shallow advice, but my husband immediately identified the problem. The words had opened a wound that needed healing.

I knew that the father of our European friend was a businessman in territory captured by the Japanese during World War II. I knew our friend was interned by the Japanese and spent her teen years in conditions slightly better than a prisoner of war camp. I didn’t know that although she immigrated to the U.S. as an adult and told stories of God’s grace and care during those difficult years, our friend still had wounds that bled easily. Thankfully, she agreed to counseling.

Any insight into identifying old wounds?

Family, Friendship, Memories

A Day to Read Letters

I love letters and so does my family. While a preschooler, my middle son stuffed my mail into his top dresser drawer. After being caught with bills, he explained he wanted his own mail. He got it—all the advertisements.

Like that son, I found childhood mail thrilling. Great-Aunt Frances sent a me letter full of jokes in which she had inserted the names of family members. My grandmother sent me updates about the cardinal who ate out of her hand. She sent her great-grandsons cards with a dollar or two stuffed inside.

What thrills me as an adult is the family history those letters contain—minutiae dear to my heart.

Those details are stuffed in five cardboard boxes and one plastic shoebox. It has been years since I read them systematically.

While September 1 is World Letter Writing Day, there is no corresponding day for reading letters. The closest is National Reading Day on March 2nd. I read every day so perhaps March 2nd should be my Letter Reading Day. As my husband says about many family events, “You couldn’t put this in a book.” I am glad we put them in letters.

Any letters deserving another perusal?

Decisions, Family, Friendship

Repaying Evil with Blessing

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called that you may obtain a blessing.

1 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

My husband and I memorized 1 Peter 3:9-12 with our Sunday School students in 1988. Later, we taught our own children those verses. I knew they were true because they are God’s Word. However, one afternoon, I especially felt their power.

As I stood on a balcony and gazed at a beautiful view during a vacation opportunity, I Peter 3:9 came to mind.

A favorite spot

When I do as I ought—not repaying evil for evil but rather blessing—God does not owe me anything, but in his mercy, he gives me blessings. That afternoon, I remembered God’s blessings for pursuing peace.

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

I Peter 3:12

Remembering lately?

Decisions, Friendship

The Victim Is Not Always The Victim

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear

Isaiah 11:13b (ESV)

I think one of the saddest things I wish I had known was that the victim is not always the victim. Much is hidden that cannot be discerned—even by people who are daily witnesses.

The apparent victim may tell the best story. Or have the most pathetic or sweetest voice. Or an appearance that invokes trust. Or experienced a tragedy. Or a serious illness. Or always makes sure his or her version is told first.

I have been fooled by all the above.

The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.

Proverbs 18:17

Many times, I did not have an examiner. The version I or a friend heard occurred miles away or years ago. The truth was not discovered until I or another had sympathized with or given aid to an instigator or bully or liar.

I learned along the way to be wary of the “wounded.” They may have been the one wielding a sharp sword.

Have you been misled?