My teen had her throat ripped out this week. Please indulge my dramatic way of sharing she had her tonsils removed; I’m a bit sleep deprived. I find it interesting that in all the post-op literature, I didn’t find the note: Parents of teens: Prepare to return to an infant-sleep-schedule. In order to manage my girl’s pain, every 4 hours, jarring digital bells alert me it’s time to serve “Pre-Dawn Pain Be Gone” cocktails…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My daughter is a trooper, but this is incredibly painful for her.
Being near her over the past few days. memories over a decade old are stirring. The intensity of her pain has reminded me of the days my sisters and I stuck close to my mom as she dealt with cancer. Apples and oranges to a degree, but pain is pain. One connecting thread between the two events has emerged as I’ve loved on my little one this week. It’s not something that I articulated when we were in the throes of caring for mom, but the truth is timeless: It is a tender and precious privilege to be allowed this close to someone’s pain.
PAIN IS PAIN
People hurt deeply on relational, emotional, spiritual, physical and mental levels. When I’m invited into a person’s pain, it’s a privilege no matter what the cause. While it’s my joy to journey with them, their pain can become a transferred pain if I don’t interact with it well. Maybe that’s why some folks shy away from being near pain. Perhaps we fear we’ll take on their burden and be debilitated by it. As I prayed this week, God brought to mind some of His wisdom regarding how to be present in someone’s pain.
HOW TO “PAIN”
- Don’t be Jesus: Especially in relational, emotional and spiritual hurts, but true in all pain, our job is to point people to the true Healer. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in being there for someone that they begin to rely on us for healing instead of God. They increasingly need assurance from us. They begin to quote our words instead of His. Their pain transfers to us as its host. We need to be wise, pray before coming alongside and continually point them to healing through prayer and His promises. Isaiah 53:4-5~Yet it was our weaknesses He carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for His own sins! But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
- Be on hand, not handy: Why do we feel the need to “fix” things? Probably because we see the brokenness. However, the best gift we can give is to allow a hurting person to ‘be’. If we’ll listen, we can discern when he/she is ready to take a step toward healing. It sounds odd, but even physically hurting people need the space to be overwhelmed in their pain before they can embrace taking steps toward wellness. Not having to be alone in that space is a gift we give and a privilege we’re granted. Put simply: Listen and don’t tell them how to get over it. Be present in their pain. James 1:19~My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
PRAY PAIN AWAY