Freedom to Walk the Hard Stuff – Thanks to {Dad}

My husband shared with me that one of his students had skipped a grade.

I chuckled as I recounted the time my principal had offered to let me skip a grade as well.

Fourth grade.

I remember talking about it with my dad… and concluding that I would not skip fourth grade… in order to stay with my friends.

And stay smart.

I mean, if I skipped an entire grade… wouldn’t I miss important information that would help me do well in fifth grade? Were they trying to set me up to fail?

Well, maybe not, but as a little ‘ol third grader, I had some good rationale (if I don’t say so myself). I continued on as normal.

What struck me for the first time last night was this:

Fourth grade was one of the most difficult grades of my entire life… because of relationships (not academics).

It was the year that all the girls in my class chanted “Nark, nark, Nark!” at me on the softball field.

It was the year I stopped being girly.

It was the year I stopped hanging out with the girls.

It was the year the boys took me in…

And it stayed that way for the next TWENTY years!

A year that affected twenty years of my life… in really deep and meaningful ways.

Who knew?

If only my dad would’ve said, “Marcy… you are going to skip a grade,” instead of giving me a choice.

If only, in his experience and wisdom, he’d said, “Darling, I’m going to spare you the travesties of bullies, humiliation, and a life of misunderstanding female relationships. Let’s skip this year.”

But he didn’t.

In His tender love… he allowed me to walk through a fourth grade valley.

Because it was also in this year that I learned to be a voice for the voiceless. An advocate for the underdog.

It’s probably why I’m a professional Counselor today.

Because he let me suffer. He let me experience pain. Turmoil. Hurt.

To understand, through experience, the suffering of others.

To offer them the comfort that he embraced me with during that year… to say, “I know how you feel… I’ll be your friend.”

Because he didn’t just let me walk it alone… like some cruel, heartless dad.

He walked it with me. Holding my hand. Knowing that the wounds of this year would become the fertilizer for something beautiful.

Friendships with women that I appreciate all the more because of the years that found it lacking.

A soul connection with other sufferers of injustice.

A healthy sense of what I want in women friends… and the knowledge that it does exist, even if it must be searched out.

And it’s worth it.

My dad taught me that love is, sometimes, to let someone walk through the hard stuff.

Not to rescue them from it for our own comfort. Only to cause them to miss some of the most beautiful lessons of life.

Lessons that don’t easily fade with time, distractions, or new endeavors.

But lessons that stick all the while… shaping us into better people, better humans because of them.

That fourth grade year was hard. It’s not a year I’d like to repeat.

But it’s a year I refuse to un-do.

Thank you, dad! For loving me so much that you let me experience the heart of other sufferers! With my hand in yours, your eyes on mine, guiding me through the sorrows and aches… to become a lover of the unloved because of my own journey!

May I be this same kind of mother… a mom who allows my children to experience the fullness of life, sorrows and all… not quenching it because of my own heart-pain on their behalves. But that love would win out and we would be a better planet for it. That with tenderness, affection, and comfort I could journey those paths with them, hand in hand, us and my dad…

And may you know that hand of dad too… as you walk through pain and suffering… to know that it’s love that leads you there, guides you through it, lets the hard stuff matter, un-wasted. Un-alone.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my  head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalms 23:4-6

To learn more about 31 Days in 2012 or view other 31 Dayers blogs, click here.

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 23 of 31 Days in 2012.

The Value of Pain (Feelings From a Thinker’s Perspective Part 2)

(Read Part 1 here.)

I’ve been thinking about my last post and how it relates to my purpose of providing inspiration and encouragement to my readers.

It’s always good to hear how another person views a particular subject… especially if it’s different from your own. I know I personally love to have conversations filled with depth and rationale and understanding one another. My purpose for righting about feelings from a “Thinker” perspective was to give voice to the many of us who can only be validated in our feelings by having someone understand how concretely we view them. On the flip side, we Thinkers have to be keenly aware of weight feelings carry for our “Feeler” friends and how unnecessary an explanation is. 🙂 I know that I have personally (and unintentionally) wounded friends by being so rational and logical about feelings instead of just accepting them regardless. Equally, I’ve been hurt by people wanting to talk about my feelings with no consideration of how I wound up with them!

May we each strive to love and accept the differences among ourselves- to cherish them in such a way that we are willing to learn the other “language” for the sake of friendship and the kinship of our humanity.

Speaking of hurt, I wanted to process some thoughts I’ve had regarding pain.

A friend was sharing in my Bible Study the other day and said something to the effects of “Pain is only valuable if God is allowed to use it for His and our own good.” Now, even if you don’t believe in God, I’m sure that as you read along, you will still be able to appreciate the way that pain can drive us toward betterment if we allow it.

Let’s consider the Flu. Or any cold. Unpleasant. Uncomfortable. Normally doesn’t kill you. The flu is actually a sort of a natural cleanse. It cleans your body of all of the nasties that have built up, albeit through some orifices you’d have rather left alone. Not only does the flu clean out your system, but it sends your immunity to bootcamp. An untrained immunity will be a weak enemy for real battle (i.e. much larger diseases and illnesses). Your body’s response to the flu virus is also a way of altering you to a foreign adversary is on the premise and works to rid your land of it. So, you can choose to see sickness as a horrible attack on your system or see it as an opportunity for you body to strengthen, prepare, and clean, though uncomfortably.

How true this is of emotional pain too! Feelings of hurt or anger or sadness are all indicators that something is not well within us. A red-flag that danger to our psyche is at bay. It would be easy to simply wallow in those feelings believing that they in and of themselves are the end-all/be-all. But really, feelings and emotions are so often just a reflection of the true issue at hand.

My husband, a person like so many who is very familiar with pain, reminded me of a quote: “Pain is the acid that cuts through the walls of denial.” Pain can get to parts of us that no one else can. It can speak to us on levels that nothing else can reach. The acid could destroy us if we didn’t know how to use it.

So how do we use pain? If you believe in God… this is a little easier. You trust His Word which says that His plans for you are to work all things out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). To give His creations a hope and a future and not to harm them (Jeremiah 29:11). To trust that God is allowing pain in order to “glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5). C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” It’s in our pain, when we are desperate to end our suffering, that we are finally willing to listen, to be changed. It’s not God’s mean way of making us something different than we are. Instead, it is God’s kind way of directing us away from those things that would harm and destroy us and ushering into a land filled with choice milk and honey. The way a Shepherd gently guides the sheep along the path… allowing them pain if it will teach them to stay the course and flee from cliffs, wolves, and thorns. This God, in His great love for us, allows us to trip, get poked, and encounter “the wild beasts” of the field to teach us the hard lessons that only experience can teach us.

If you don’t believe in a God who loves you, protects you, and ushers you, then your path looks a little different. It becomes a task greater than trusting God…but of trusting in yourself. In your ability to step outside of the pain and see it objectively- as the tool that it is. As we are imperfect and completely unable to be completely objective of our own life journeys, this is a daunting task. You must reframe your pain and choose to use it as something that improves you. Instead of swearing off all men because one man deeply hurt you… decide to learn the lesson of heartache and promise to be as honest and genuine with others as you can be to spare them what you have felt. Or challenge yourself to experience the satisfaction of being the “better” person and continue to “love” that person with kindness, patience, forgiveness, and peace. They, too, are learning on the curves of life and, unfortunately, you were an instrument in their own growth as well. See it as such and don’t let pain destroy you. Rather, let it build you. Better yet, choose to believe that there is a God who loves you and wants the best for you- and follow Him.

This concludes part 2 of how a Thinker views Feelings… in light of pain. I hope that whatever your life experience, today you can choose to look at the pain you’ve experienced and see how it has made you something better than you were… more mature, more kind, more compassionate or understanding. Perhaps you’ve let it tear you down a little…and make you cold or hard or distant from those who love you. My hope and prayer is that you will be able to find it within you to look at how you’ve let pain influence your life… and choose to use it for the better… and not the worse.

Blessings in your endeavors!