Those moments that unexpectedly penetrate your heart.
A song, a smell, a taste, a feeling, or a sight that brings it all back. That’s what a trigger is.
For me, it comes like a wave washing upon the shore. Not a wave that knocks me off my feet because I’m numb and cannot feel it. It just advances and retreats back where it came from. But it leaves something, as waves often do. It leaves memories. And then I wonder. And then I want to remove myself from the source of those triggers.
It’s amazing how God has made us to endure pain. The best way to describe it is we are wired that way. It’s just that it can be a lonely place sometimes. We live smile, we laugh, we work, we play, and always beneath the surface of our smile is sorrow. No one else is aware of it but us.
People who live this way are okay. Really. Something or someone is missing from their lives and they walk with a limp. They have come to accept it.
Some have to avoid those triggers. Don’t judge them.
Memories ebb and flow, washing upon the shore of our mind. Sometimes the tide comes in uninvited, carrying debris with it. If we allow the debris to lodge in our minds, we can become laden down with self-pity, discouragement, and depression.
The tide will go out. And with it, the debris.
But look! There are some surprising treasures that the tide brought with it. If you look carefully, you will find them.
Pain does not have to drown us. God knows we do not have the strength to tread water for long. He brings reprieve in the form of little joys that will make us smile in the midst of even deep sorrow.
The first clear notes of a cheerful robin, chasing away the bitter winds of winter.
The surprise visit of a summer breeze, bringing relief on a hot summer day.
The palette of warm, autumn colors painted on a dreary, gray canvas.
The gentle falling snowflakes quieting a troubled heart.
Spring in the Northeast unfolds slowly. There’s always a teaser a few days in late February with temperatures reaching into the 40’s. But just as you get your hopes up, the frigid cold returns.
Pain is like that. Whether you’re grieving the loss of someone you love, or your marriage ended in divorce, or struggling with painful memories … there is an ebb and flow that may occur for the rest of your life. It lessens, as it should. But it can always be there.
Learning to live with pain isn’t a wrong way to think. There’s lots of chronic conditions we live with. We don’t embrace pain to the point of some kind of self-mutilation. It is practically facing the truth: it is what it is. That is not a hopeless statement. It is facing the facts with courage and learning to live with the pain, but not allowing it to rule you.
I’ve got a scar above my eye from a see-saw accident over 45 years ago. Every once and awhile I notice the scar and remember the pain. Accidents happen all the time and this was a minor one, yet, the memory of it is still there.
But I also carry scars in my heart. Two are still tender. The wounds were so deep that I am certain that even though the pain has lessened, it will be a scar that will always hurt when touched. That doesn’t mean I don’t have faith. It means I have faith to live with it.
Pain makes us human. It makes us reach out to others in pain and remember to love our neighbor.
Ultimately, spring will come. Isn’t that wonderful? The gray clouds must give way to the warmth of a new season that promises cheery colors, sweet fragrances, and lush meadows. Spring expresses the promise of new life for nature, but how much more for you whom God says He loves?