Living at the Pace of Pain, Part 3
One of the things I realize now is that while I was in the most severe pain, I was very narrow-focused. My view of things outside my own bedroom or the path from the bed to the van to the doctor was extremely limited. I remember thinking I was the only one at the doctor’s office. I saw other people, but I could not take them in at all. All I could do was manage my body and try to figure out how I was going to get it from one place to another with the least possible resistance. I was very self-centered. I couldn’t care about everything because I was so focused on my own pain.
As my pain started to diminish, I began to notice other people in the room again. I could chit-chat. I could see people again. I had the emotional space to take others in.
Something I learned through my pain is that people in severe pain have a limited view of life. Much of their energy is going to just getting through the day, monitoring how they are feeling, maybe even just getting to the next pain pill. Although my recent experience was physical in nature, I believe this principle holds for people in severe emotional pain as well.
Enter GRACE. Much grace needs to be given to those who are suffering. Their vision is limited. The hard part is that you don’t always know when someone is suffering. You just see their short-sightedness and are tempted to lose patience with them.
A few months ago I was at the bank in a long line of people waiting for an open teller. There were about 3 tellers behind the counter, but only one was actually helping customers. A lady in line behind me began making loud comments about the lack of service. Another woman in line told her to pipe down (in so many words). The complaining woman shot back her response and it just felt mean and awkward.
I remember thinking that she must not have much love or grace in her life. If she did, she might be able to bear up under the minor strain of waiting in line for 5 minutes. She was likely under some “pain” that was causing her to be short-sighted.
Is it possible that we could be disseminators of grace in a hurting world? Many people cannot see past their own pain (whether it is physical, emotional or relational). Maybe we could be eyes and ears watching for the hurt in people and sending out a prayer…or even trying to inject a moment of grace with a few words.
I want what I experienced to keep me in a place of humility. I don’t want to forget how narrow I was when I was in pain. I want that experience to help me keep my eyes open for other hurting people. I want to be a container of God’s grace…a jar of clay filled with great treasure…that might bless another.