Over the past three years, my experience of pain and hurt has deepened. One of the hard parts of writing books is that not everyone in your life gives you permission to tell the stories you live, so to honor others, there are some stories I cannot tell. But within the past few years, I have experienced depth of heartbreak that I truly did not know was possible. I have never felt more alone, more abandoned, more misunderstood. While I was digging through old pains and problems, the world did not stop, and sin did not let up, and so for six or so months, I was pelted from the inside and the outside with more pain than I had previously known.
And I survived. I didn’t quit. I didn’t walk away from the pain or give up on life. I walked all the way through it, holding the hands of many trusted friends and my counselor, and here I am on the other side. My counselor was right; my capacity to see beauty has increased in a much bigger measure than the pain I felt. My ability to feel the depths of something good was strengthened by my choice to feel the depths of pain. I don’t exactly know how it works. I just know the more I hang on and feel, the more I am able to feel; and each time more balm gets rubbed into the wounds of my soul.
It’s sacred, right? Feeling God right here, in the middle, is just as my friend described. Purely sacred.
So looking for lovely is not some sort of cheerleader chant. I’m not waving pom-poms at you or dressing like Pollyanna and trying to convince you that things shouldn’t hurt if you are “doing this right.” In fact, I’d say it’s the other way around. It’s not about pretending everything is beautiful and nothing is ugly and you have no questions or doubts and picking out the beautiful in your everyday is going to protect you from anything hurting ever. It’s about feeling the pain, letting the sufferings be a part of your life, embracing the Romans 5:3 moments so you can process through the Romans 5:4 days so you live a Romans 5:5 hope-filled life.
If you aren’t experiencing pain, you aren’t experiencing beauty. Darkness makes us appreciate the beauty of the light. If you aren’t allowing yourself to feel the hurt, sadness, loneliness, and disappointment this fallen world has to offer, you probably aren’t feeling the fullness of the joy and beauty the redeemed moments have to offer.
There is nothing beautiful about a tragedy. My friend dying in a freak car accident? Not beautiful. And we feel that. Deeply. The pain of broken families and broken hearts sometimes is deeper than words can describe. But there is beauty in choosing to feel that pain, in calling hurt what it is, and not pretending everything is okay.
Whatever tragedy you have experienced or are currently living through, the most beautiful thing you can do is LIVE. Keep walking, keep weeping, keep eating. Don’t ignore the hurt. Don’t attempt to avoid it and just move on with your life. Feel it all, and invite people in to feel it with you.
Annie F. Downs is an author, blogger, and speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Flawed but funny, she uses her writing to highlight the everyday goodness of a real and present God. An author of four books — Looking for Lovely, Let’s All Be Brave, Perfectly Unique, and Speak Love — Annie also loves traveling around the country speaking to young women, college students, and adults. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her on Twitter @anniefdowns.Leave a Comment
Wow! What a beautiful post, that I so desperately needed. My Mom passed December 18, 2015 and I have spent my days smiling and pretending that I’m ok. Not wanting to feel the pain, keeping busy doing nothing. I thank God you for this morning. He’s always there just when I need Him. Be blessed.
Praying for you Janice for the Lord to continue to bless and carry you, may He lessen your hurt, bring you comfort and a safe manner for you to process the pain. I am very sorry for your loss x
Janice, I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet mother. Allow your self to feel that pain, knowing that He is there holding you through it. May He bless you so gently today in His healing love 🙂 Here with you, dear sister.
Ana Brooks says
From the bottom of pained heart: *Thank you,* Annie.
Ana, May the Lord bring peace and so many of His kind mercies to you today. Holding you up in prayer today, with you 🙂
Annie, I praise the Lord for this post that He has tenderly given us through you. Moving through pain, facing the pain, is so hard, yet keeping a focus on the Lord help us move forward with joy in the suffering. In Him there is meaning to the suffering. May Jesus tenderly bless all who hurt today in His soft mercies 🙂
Joyce Salwen says
This is lovely. A welcomed change from the typical responses one receives when we’re suffering the pain of loss, depression, or other hurts from life’s disappointments. It’s interesting, people don’t really tell you how to deal with it in a healthy way, maybe because most people don’t know how, but they don’t like to talk about it, like it’s bad, but it’s part of life. The great thing is, bible covers it, but not enough people read the bible or know where to find the information. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and explaining it so clearly.
Rebecca Jones says
I think if we acknowledge the hurt, it easier to heal. The more we dwell on something the deeper the pain. However deep, God is deeper.
Oh, Annie I’m weeping through this post. In October I found out my husband had been having an affair and then I lost my dear grandmother in November. The past few months have been unbelievably difficult, but like you some dear close friends and my counselor have helped me navigate them. It’s SO very hard to get up and make through each day. Just one foot in front in front the other is all I can manage. Thank you so much for this today! I’ve saved and will read it daily.
Kathy Pinkerton says
Annie, I love that you wrote: “Darkness makes us appreciate the beauty of the light”. As we walk through our dark times, we become stronger as we go through!! I constantly remind myself that I am a work in progress and God uses us cracked vessels to let his light shine through! 🙂 Thank you Annie, for your encouraging post!
Rachel B says
Thank you for penning the words from God’s heart to us. Much needed words for me right now…