That Beautiful Pain

I returned home from a short weekend trip to visit close friends in far places yesterday. On the trip home, I quickly sketched out a few thoughts from the weekend in a bumpy slant, hoping that I could adequately freeze my memories to paper before they dissolved away as quickly as the summer heat into fall. The following is an excerpt from my journal.

“And so, the weekend draws to a close. I’ve got a seat by the window, and I’m in awe of the day that’s whizzing by as I settle in for a lengthy drive back home. The weekend was beautiful – the air so crisp, the sun so bright, my lungs so full – but maybe it’s not the weather that’s different, but the person experiencing it?

Every chance I had I breathed deep and long and full – until it was painful to try for any more. My weekend was so full of newness, but perhaps what struck me the most was the humanity and humility. Or maybe it wasn’t the people there that were different, but the person experiencing them?

I saw God in the faces of those suffering but standing. And I heard God in the voices of a thousand hungry souls coming together as one Body and Family in worship – and maybe this time I know for sure, the person experiencing this is different.

I’m different. And with every day, I change and grow and collect and learn and live. Yet the influences that change me, the things that affect me, are not always good – and maybe that’s what needs to be different.

A friend smiles through the heat, joyously leaning over a fence to tell me: the transition is hard, but grace abounds.

Grace abounds!

Am I that lost sheep seeking to round out the flock of 99? Am I the woman seeking to warm the lost coin in her pocket?

And the question we all ask (and know the answer to): am I the prodigal son – again?

(yesterday’s gospel reading).

Yes. Yes, and grace abounds.

I can breathe deep and long and full and keep breathing in until my lungs will burst – and the pain is beautiful.

Yes, that beautiful pain that tells me I’m living, really alive.

Sore legs from walking to friends, sore sides from laughing, and arms that never tire of receiving hugs.

The transition is painful, but the grace? Beautiful!

The beautiful pain endured for my soul, the pain that dripped from His side down to His feet, the pain that cleanses and renews and heals – that pain is grace, and it is wonderful.

I’ve spent the last two years wondering what I was supposed to do with the pain I’ve been granted, wondering when the old would be come new.

Far too often do we notice the growing pains before we notice the growth.

Perhaps all these experiences are not so different, but the person experiencing them is?

Am I different?

Absolutely, and rightly so.

I am constantly on a journey to known-ness, to newness, to me-ness and Christ-ness.

The state of being known, of being new, of being me, of being Christ.

I don’t have to go out of state to be in those states, but this weekend I did – and I crossed more than borders.

I crossed boundaries.

And the person I’m becoming is a person I’d like to befriend.

Too long I’ve been at war with myself. And few things are more crippling to femininity than a consistent undermining of personal value – and I’ve been seeking for two years to validate my choices and validate myself.

Is it possible that I don’t need validation because I’ve already been redeeming by a pain so beautiful that it spills from His wounds across time and space and soul?

am the 100th sheep, the found coin, the returning repenting son – and its a painful reality but a beautiful one.

Because with pain comes blissful relief as His grace washes us.

I don’t know what my future holds – but I have the privilege to choose how I’ll get there.

And when I make mistakes, when I make them because I will, I’ll take a moment to breathe deep and long and full, and my pain will remind me that I’m simply alive.

Pain is a gift – grace is a gift – beauty is a gift.

Change is a gift worth taking.

It’s terrifying – who enjoys pain?

He said to Saint Rose – My cross was yet more painful

And His ultimate gift yet more beautiful!

I don’t know what my future holds, and a great many decisions will need to be made soon that radically affects everything I know.

But two things are constants in my life.

One, when I am hurt, there will be pain.

And two, relief will always follow.

Breathe deep long full – embrace the chilly air with burning lungs.

The life He first breathed into us is offered again and again – when we leave the flock, when we lose the coin, when we run from home – He offers to breathe into our dust and make us images of Him once more.

I am different – and rightfully so.

But I am not done changing – I am never done growing!

Perhaps it’s simply time to grow in a different direction.

I didn’t simply cross borders this weekend, I crossed boundaries.

I am healing.

I am changing.

I am aching and bleeding, but relief will be swift and sweet when the time comes.

And His grace is ever sweeter.”

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Photo credited to The Road Less Traveled By, September 14th 2013

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