Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Have you ever felt isolated in your pain? For years my birthday was often a day filled with sadness. I really wasn’t sure why this was. Focused on what I wished my day was like, those I loved seemed to fall short of providing me this ideal celebration.
I remember one specific birthday when our oldest son was in Afghanistan and depression consumed me. Not wanting to infect my entire family I remember taking off on a bike ride and ending up at Our Lake. I sat alone and ached within. Where was all this pain coming from? I remember this birthday because when I returned to our home my youngest son then a teen, aware of my pain handed me a CD he had made. On it was the song American Soldier and many of my favorite songs. I still cherish that gift. I knew I was loved, and Karson had done a beautiful job conveying that love to me.
Jim Wilder authored a small book, Share Immanuel. Immanuel is based on the understanding that God is with us and always has been with us. He explains that since we often lack the awareness of God’s presence most of our memories remain incomplete. This causes our interpretation of life to be distorted which robs our joy and peace leaving us in our perceived pain.
God continuously reaches out to us through words, pictures, thoughts, desires, body sensations, and emotional shifts. This understanding allows us to interact with Immanuel while still feeling our pain. If we sit in our Thorn-filled Pain Memories Seat, we will find it very difficult to sense God’s presence. The Appreciation Memories Seat will allow us to remember times of joy. We may not be able to directly connect with God but rather than sitting in our pain we are able to see signs that God cares about us and the world He created.
I have learned to sit in what Jim Wilder calls the Interactive Memories Seat. As we look towards God, we ask Him what we need to know about the pain we are feeling. We ask Him if it is connected to a memory He wants to heal? With our focus now on God, we sense His response to us and understand God is happy to be with us.
September 2, I celebrated another birthday here in Florida. This birthday would be different from previous ones. My mom who remembered my special day and would call me and sing me Happy Birthday was gone. This would be my fourth birthday I’d celebrate since her departure from this earth. Oh, how I miss her corny birthday greeting often left on my voice mail because I was too busy to pick up my phone.
We were consumed with hurricane prepping. Lanny and I had just returned to Florida Saturday night and hurricane Dorian was expected to arrive the next day, so Monday was a day filled with last minute supply runs.
The last three birthdays here in Florida, away from family, my girlfriend and her husband had celebrated with us. Since we were now preparing to sell our home here, they had not planned their vacation week to spend with us. I missed them.
As Monday approach so did that familiar feeling of sadness. My husband who had spent the last day helping neighbors put up storm shutters and prepare for the storm let me know Sunday night that he had not gotten me anything for my birthday. I think other birthdays I would have just pushed this comment off and said it was fine. Tonight, it did not feel fine. I knew the pain I was feeling was attached to something much bigger than my husband’s inability to buy me a card. Instead of isolating in my pain I continued to interact with God. I was aware of His presence as our neighbors dropped off an ice cream cake and flowers and one of my girlfriends came by with a card and gifts. There were so many other demonstrations of love shown to me that day. God was present and we interacted together as Lanny and I went and visited friends and then sat down by the raging ocean.
The next day as I prayed, I asked Jesus, why am I vulnerable emotionally on my birthday? I remember what God had impressed on me the night before. He said, our deepest pain creates our greatest growth.
Lord how do you want me to grow I asked. I saw a visual of Jesus and I sitting together, and we were laughing and blowing out birthday candles. As we blew out candles together Jesus impressed on me that all the years no one acknowledged my special day He was there celebrating with me. This visual was my gift. We are so loved.
What events provoke emotion in your life? Are you able to stay connected with God in your pain? Do you sense His presence?