A Purpose in the Pain

randomlychad  —  August 26, 2012 — 18 Comments

Friends, we have have recently been through some deep waters together. I had a purpose in sharing those stories with you; it wasn’t to shock you, wound you, or crush your spirits.

It wasn’t even to evoke sympathy. No, I simply wanted you to share in my journey; in order to do that I needed to authentically represent the things that happened. After what you’ve done for me, I owed you that much. It was because of you that I got to go to bootcamp. So it is as much your story as it is mine.

I could have broken down each session, given you what I heard, and learned, but I wanted you to partake instead in my internal journey. Each of the stories I shared last week represents a stage in the process Jesus led me through during bootcamp. Like an onion, He gently, lovingly peeled away the layers.

Showed me where I’d been hurt the deepest, wounded the most.
But allow me to back up a little bit first. Going into it, I had an idea, a dream of healing, but I was frightened. The only thing I clung to heading up to Colorado was tale of the woman with the issue of blood. Like her, I told myself if I could but touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, I would be healed.

Never did I expect Him to reach down, and touch me the way He did.

But He did, friends–O! how He did. The weekend began with John Eldredge repeating two refrains:

“You have a heart, and it matters, ” and “You were born into a world at war.”

As a man, and this is not meant as a reproach, merely an observation, I can’t recall the last time I heard either at church.

From there, John and the team laid the foundation that my heart–every man and woman’s heart, really–has been wounded in that war. In the process of uncovering those wounds, I was forced to confront the “Poser,” or the false self, I’d constructed to hide the wounded boy within. What were my fig leafs, and why didn’t I want to be known?

That is a deeply personal journey for each one of us. Suffice it to say, God was faithful to show up, blow down my house of cards. The truth came diamond-hard, and slug-ugly (God the diamond, and I the slug). And I got something from each and every session. Where before I lived with rejection, He gave me a new name:

Loved and Accepted.

As surely as the sun rises in the east, and sets in the west, He spoke that to my heart. But He wasn’t done with me yet. He wanted me to know that I was “loved and accepted” before He dove deep in my heart to wound me to the depths of my soul.

What do I mean?

I mean that for me, and for you, too, there is a theme to our wounds. And that God is faithful to wound us in our deepest woundings to bring those things to light.

Because He wants to heal them.

First, He knocked out my foundation, which was this:

Nearly everything I have done in life up until now has been for a singular purpose, namely my dad’s approval–his affirmation, his validation. Despite clearly getting the message from him, and others, that I didn’t have what it takes (who did that message really come from, who worked so tirelessly to take me out?). This explains why I continued for so long to allow him to wound not only me, but my family as well.

I wanted him in my life.

What boy doesn’t?

But that rejection, that craving for approval, wasn’t the deepest thing about me. No, Jesus went past that to my deepest heart.

It was the penultimate session of the retreat. Already I was struggling to remain present, my mind and heart drifting to home, and its cares. Despite this, worship really moved me. God was there. I belted out the words to Tim Hughes’ Everything harder than I’d ever sung anything in my life (I’m very much a joyful noise person).

And then Morgan Snyder got up to share. I realized–God showed me via Morgan’s story–the deepest thing about me wasn’t a life lived balanced on the knife’s edge between a fear of rejection, and a desperate need for a approval.

No, the deepest thing, the thing that felt truest of all, was that I believed I was alone. This was brought powerfully to my attention by:

Yes, that is the much-seen video of Derek Redmond losing out on his last chance for Olympic gold, but rising anyway, choosing to complete the race. God showed me three things, spoke them indelibly into my heart:

1) I believed I was the man running the race alone, the watching world waiting for him to fall. That I was essentially fatherless.
2) All I had longed for from my father, I already had–had had–all along. He so gently rebuked me of this.
3) Like Redmond’s father in the video, Jesus has got me, His arm already around me.

He told me “Son, you’re not alone. You’ve never been. This race that you run–life? I’ve carried you all along. We will finish together.”

I was shell-shocked, stunned, hadn’t dared hope God would speak in such a personal way. But He showed up in the midst of my fragile faith anyway.

At this point, we were dismissed to an exercise, a time of silent reflection and prayer. We were to get alone with God, take these questions to Him.

I couldn’t do it.

I went back to the bunkhouse, locked myself in a bathroom stall, and just balled.

For half and hour, I cried. I grieved all I never had, but had had all along, I grieved how I had spurned my Father. I cried in great heaving sobs so hard my chest was sore for days afterwards.

I cried tears of joy, because for the first time in my life I knew who I was:

My Father’s son.

How about you? Do you know who you are? More importantly: do you know Whose you are?

You can.

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randomlychad

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Christ-follower, husband, dad, blogger, reader, writer, movie buff, introvert, desert-dweller, omnivore, gym rat. May, or may not, have a burgeoning collection of Darth Vader t-shirts. Can usually be found drinking protein shakes, playing with daughter, working out with his son, or hanging out with his wife. Makes a living playing with computers. Subscribe to RandomlyChad by Email

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  • Thank you, thank you, thank you…for sharing your experience here. Your writing has gone to a whole new level. And more importantly, your faith has obviously taken on an overhaul. I can’t wait to see where this goes in your life, Chad.

    • Thank-you, Jon, for your prayers, encouragement, and for coming along on the journey with me.

    • Couldn’t agree more Jon! It’s really awesome to see!!!

    • I second (or third) that. This writing is incredible.

      • Thank-you, Jamie! God did, and is doing, so much.

  • I’m proud of you, Chad, for declaring “enough is enough” and moving past the past and forging a new direction for your life!

    • Thank-you, Thomas!

      There comes a point, a dangerous place, in our lives when we have one foot on the grave. This is when our memories eclipse our dreams. It’s a dangerous, dangerous place to be.

      Thank God that He loves us enough, His wayward sons, to not leave us there.
      All that He asks is that we let go of all we’re holding onto, and take what He offers. There is pain in letting go, but the peace and freedom on the other side are indescribable.

      If He can what He did for such a one as me, He can do it for anybody.

  • Wow. Beautiful post. I remember being at a point where I finally stopped fighting God and chose something different. The emotions can be so overwhelming. Mike Foster from POTSC was at our church this weekend. Something he said that continues to resonate with me is “Be brave with your story so that others can be brave with theirs.” I would say you are definitely being brave with your story. It takes courage, but it will be worth it! God will use you to help others.

  • SO SO SO POWERFUL. You know what really stuck out at me this time from the video? The father wasn’t there to pick the son up and help him every step of the way. The father was there, WANTING, LONGING, to help every moment of the way, but he was not physically there helping the son every step of the way. The son had to get up and also take many of the painful steps on his own.

    That really tells me something there; YOU (I’m talking to myself, Chad and every other reader out there) have to be willing to take painful steps on your own. You aren’t alone, but you need to be willing to endure the hard times and accept that support is near, even when you want the support to be more present or more tangible.

    Does that make sense? It makes sense to me, but I’d be glad to clarify if that isn’t as clear to read as it is in my mind. Thanks for letting me share on this Chad.

    • Thanks, Jim!

      The painful step is that step of faith, right? Pushing through… whatever… to pursue the path God has for us.

      And it’s not that the Father isn’t there--it’s just that we can’t sense Him. Make sense?

  • This is a terrific post. I tried to add stars, but it kept going to like, -3 and that wasn’t what I wanted to write. Beautiful. Braveheart.

  • AbbyKNorman

    I tried to explore the pain/savior juxtaposition at the post I chose for the deeperstory link up. It is so hard to figure out the best way to share, but not step on toes. Well done.

    • It is indeed. Thank-you for stopping by to read, and for your kind comment.
      I will have to check out your post.

  • troy mc laughlin

    Thanks Chad. Why is the lie so easy to believe that we are alone? That our hurts, struggles and “wars” we face are ours alone. Even when we don’t know God He’s there. Always there. Just waiting for us to cry out.
    When we share these “wars” we face with others we give hope. We give them the ability to say “I’m not alone.” Also “I’m important and have meaning.”

    Keep sharing your heart Chad. Keep sharing your words.
    The world needs hope. I need hope.