Other People’s Pain

Driving home from visiting another office, that Stephen Curtis Chapman song about his daughter came on the Christian radio station I like for that stretch of road.

Six months ago, I would have immediately switched the station. But since  it’s Lent, and I’m giving up anxiety about my children, I listened. Of course, that means I listened AND cried.

My fears and anxiety have bordered on pathological – listening to a song about a child who was killed in an awful accident, I was convinced, would endanger my children to the same thing. After all, my kids are sometimes in the driveway (or on planes, Portuguese resorts, by windows or wherever the news story or song placed the doomed child). I would think, not my child, please not my child. Pathological? For sure. Unfounded? Oh yes. And not very compassionate towards the victims or those suffering loss and pain.

It wasn’t just the music or the news, though. Recently, one of the deacons challenged me to step out and not be afraid to minister to other women. That I shouldn’t doubt my ability to reach them. I wondered at the choice of the word “fear” but I think I get it now.

Compassion can be painful. It means opening your old wounds just enough for the other person to see them, and feeling some of their pain too. Listening to music or news stories invites compassion (a little more remote, but the same thing). It’s painful. You experience a little of the pain in the story or song, and then I guess it’s human nature to project that into “what if that happened to me”. Sharing and ministering is painful on a different level – “this has happened to me and I’m going to relive it a little with you”.

But what I noticed was that yes, I did experience some of the pain, but the fear subsided very quickly. My kids were home and safe. Mr. Chapman didn’t write this song to scare parents, he wrote it because he loves his daughter and he trusts God that he will see her again. Mr. Chapman wouldn’t want me or any other parents to be afraid. But I’m sure as a wonderful Christian, he’d like for us to trust God too.

Sunday, one of the young women confided in me that she has seen a dark figure lurking recently. She reaffirmed her faith a couple of weeks ago, and is really marching on the right track.  So much so, that I counseled her – Satan doesn’t like you being on track. You are a formidable woman of faith, and he knows you’re less danger to him broken and scared. So he’s going to bother you. If you weren’t formidable, and dangerous to him, he wouldn’t bother. I thought she should be encouraged – this is a sure sign the plans for her are important, and she has gifts that God plans to use. Plus the strength she will gain from this fight will serve her in later fights.

Aren’t we told we can heal and cast out demons in His name? Well, I told her, you are up to the fight with this demon, just don’t try to do it yourself. Let us help you, let God help you and fight it out. I am so impressed with her. She has come a long way in a few months. Of course Satan is getting antsy.

As I spoke to her, I felt chills up and down my spine. I sensed the warrior angel’s presence – the one I feel when I’m in court fighting for my daughter. He’s a real kick bot angel. He doesn’t mess around. I’m always overwhelmed with the urge to do a primal scream and fight when he’s around. Everything in me knew, this is what I’m supposed to be doing, sharing some of my strength to encourage this woman, who I love dearly, whose suffering was visible and tangible to me.

It didn’t hurt. God was right there with me.

The whole Broken Vessels thing suddenly made sense to me. That’s when the real tears started in the car  – Am I broken enough yet? I yelled at God. I wasn’t mad at him, but I just felt like I’ve had enough. I want my kids to be safe. I have had ten years of fear and anxiety and that’s plenty. I’ve had ten different flavors of stress, so much so that I think I can relate to pretty much anything another woman throws at me.

Broken enough in this case means trusting Him to take care of me, and of them, and venture out into the wilderness of other people’s pain. Yes, it is going to hurt. Yes, I’m probably going to cry from some of it. But I’m not doing this by myself. God is going with me, and he will make me strong enough.

My next thought: look out bad guys, a fierce Mama and a warrior angel are coming after YOU. God help me! And I know, I know, I know He will.


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