“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” ~ James 1 : 2 – 4
Pain has been such an integral part of my life, I cannot seem to remember a time where I felt safe and immune from it. It’s been battle after battle and not surprisingly I am still dealing with scars, not just physical ones but emotional ones as well. For quite a while I was quite happy to put everything into little boxes and stow them safely in places where the world could not see. This strategy worked well until the cupboard hiding the boxes flung open in April 2006 and my life as I had known it came to a standstill.That was my very first encounter with despair and heartache so bad it brought me to my knees and left me feeling like I had no other viable option but to end my life.I sometimes wonder whether knowing what I now know would have made any difference. Would I have chosen differently? Would I have been comforted by the knowledge that as my pain has evolved, so have I?
I sometimes long for the pain of my childhood though back then all I wished for was for it to end. I long for it because it was mostly physical and much like most physical ailments, I knew it could be healed and it would go away. Apart from a few scars on my arms and legs, which are completely painless until I look at them and remember why they are there, the pain did go away. What I did not know then and what led to the box cupboard filling up while I was not looking, was the evolution of the physical pain into emotional pain.
My parents left impressions of the worst kind in my life, those that are imprinted on the very fabric of your soul. As much as I do not hate either one of them and as much as I try not to hold any grudges, I am always reminded of just how much they affected my life. For starters, I do not trust people or ever feel completely safe because I was never brought up in a safe nurturing environment. Sadly even though I am 25 and even though it has been over ten years since my mother laid a hand on me, I often find myself flinching and stepping away slowly when she is angry with me. Quite honestly, I am terrified of both my parents and that is something that I have realised will remain with me for the rest of my life. What has been most affected by my turbulent childhood is my relationship with God. As someone who does not have a healthy parent-child relationship template to work with, it is pretty hard for me to understand some of the concepts taught in the Bible. I am grateful though that God has been patient with me and He continues to work in me one step at a time. I cannot say He never granted my heartfelt pleas for the beatings to stop because they mostly did when my parents got divorced when I was 12. The pain I knew then is nothing compared to the pain I know now.
I remember reading somewhere that God uses pain and hurts to prepare us for our ministry in life. Looking back at how I have grown through what I have gone through, I cannot help but tremble in fear of what is to come. I do not believe that it is over. Neither do I believe that God has reached the highest level in the pain scale. I know this because Romans 8:29 talks about how we are called to be like his Son and I have read many Bible scriptures that talk about the pain Christ had to endure and what I imagine He still endures as our intercessor. If Jesus could be brought to a place where even He could groan in pain for His cup of suffering to be taken from Him, if I am to be conformed into the image of Him, what makes me think I will stop going through pain?
One thing that I am now sure of is that there was a point to it all and that point is applicable to my life today as well. The most monumental event in my life was the birth of my daughter when I was only 15, yes 15. For some who actually know me personally will be surprised to learn of her existence. The truth is, she is one of the many boxes that I stored in that overflowing cupboard and it is going to take a little while longer for me to be able to write a whole blog about her but I can assure you that I will. As much as I have had to endure a lot of physical and emotional pain to be her mom and most of it was what seemed like senseless pain, I would not be who I am today without her in my life. In as much as I feel I was not given much of an option in deciding whether to bring her into the world, I now know that she is a necessary part of my evolution.
Each day I am learning to persevere a little more than the day before and the more I do that the more the Holy Spirit works in me. I am not the same person I was ten years ago, a year ago, a month ago or even a week ago for that matter. What is wonderful is that all my experiences have shaped me for the better. God’s grace has given me beautiful testimonies about just how far I have come, the most significant for me being; try as I may, I do not have a bitter, twisted heart. Somehow it continues to overflow with love. Somehow with all the pain it’s had to take in, my heart can still exude love. I therefore know that my pain is a necessary concomitant to my evolution. If I did not experience it how else would I achieve the dictionary meaning for the word? How else would I experience, “the gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form”?