hurts like Heaven.

I love my job.

But there are days that I really, really hate my job.  For the most part I work with people who have had a lot of bad things happen to them.  Sometimes it’s really awful- the kind of stuff that seems more at place in a horror novel then a quiet midwestern town.  Sometimes, it’s the kind of stuff that leads to me locking myself in the bathroom for a time out.  The worst part of it isn’t the fact that I’m a visual person by nature and thus struggle with visualizing the badness and taking it home in the form of nightmares.  The worst part is that often I’m dealing with people whose lives have trained them to believe that they deserve no better, they will get no better, and the best that they can hope for themselves is to grow thick enough skins that they become numb to the pain.

There are men who learn that “real” manliness is fighting back and fighting dirtier.  Women who think that they need to trade sex for safety.  Kids who think that learning is for nerds and losers and the way to get ahead in life is to punch the other guy first.  Mothers who reject their children because responding with sympathy to a babies neediness makes them vulnerable.  Men who reject their pregnant wives for the same reason.  The world is full of people who know nothing other than cycles of poverty and pain, people who see daily happiness as just as much of a fantasy as the whole family getting along over the holidays.  The world has a seedy underbelly of pain and discontent that so many are blissfully unaware of- but for the people who live there, that is the entire world.

Pain, heartbreak, rejection and more pain.  The smart ones learn to reject before they can be rejected, to cut more quickly and more deeply, to make sure that everyone else owes them more than they owe anyone.

It’s hard to remember that there’s hope beyond all hopes, that there is a love that conquers fear, that there is a peace that surpasses all understanding.  It’s hard to remember, but most of the time I manage to.  And I do my best to continue to be God’s hands and feet in this world.  I offer love, and then I experience the greatest heartbreak of all: love rejected with a wary eye.  Love mistrusted.  Love responded to with anger and fear.

And I lock myself in the bathroom again.  And sitting there, in the dark and heat (because for some odd reason our bathroom is the hottest room in the building, like a sauna, suffocatingly hot) listening to the sound of the radiator rattling like Marley’s ghost, I realize that what I am experiencing is only a fraction of the heartbreak that the Spirit feels every day when we mistrust God’s love for us, when we respond to salvation with cynism, when we judge others before they can judge us.

The answer is simple:  love more strongly.  Believe with more conviction.  Offer more grace.  Create an overflow of mercy and affection so strong that it washes away even the most stubborn of barriers.  Live every second of your life in the hope of salvation.  Pick up the shield of faith, wear the belt of truth, set your feet in the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace.

We already have earned our reward if we only love those who want to be loved.

We have to love the way God loves.

And God just… loves.  Everyone.  Constantly.

I would say it hurts like Hell, but that’s a misnomer.  It hurts like Heaven, but that’s the kind of hurt that’s worth carrying with you.

It could change the world.


21 thoughts on “hurts like Heaven.

  1. Thanks for this Lindsey. What you said about God and feeling all our hurt….I was thinking something similar just the other day when I “turned away” because I could no longer read the stories and see the images coming out of Haiti. And then I thought, “What must it be like to be God who never turns away? Who is there for every person and every horror and ever heartache?” It made me feel really shallow for the times I harrangued God about wanting him to LISTEN to me and BE THERE for me. What feels like misery to me is probably respite to God from people who are REALLY suffering. Actually, No, I don’t believe that either. I think God is big enough to take seriously my pain because he cares how it feels to me in that moment, even if in the grand sheme of things he knows I am blowing it out of perspetive. Anyway, thank you for this great reflection and for the work you do every day in a challenging job.

    • I don’t think that God devalues anyone’s pain. He seems far bigger than that. 🙂 But I do think that it’s easy to take for granted what God’s own feelings must be. When we are angry at him, for instance, because in our pettiness we think he has ignored our struggles… Imagine what it must be like. It must be like in our own lives when our kids accuse us of not loving them because they are simply too young and immature to understand why we parent the way we do.

  2. It’s nice to read another post from you.

    As a 4-H Leader, this hit home hard. Especially the line, “Kids who think that learning is for nerds and losers and the way to get ahead in life is to punch the other guy first.” There is a kid in my 4-H group who’s philosophy is exactly that word-for-word. Wow! Very good post.

  3. Pingback: Love more strongly « Faith, Hope and Love

  4. That was an amazing post! It’s worth the wait to read something from you.
    I always believed as a child that our good deeds and love built God up, but the pain and hateful things tore him down. I just like to believe we build more then tear. It’s because of people like you that good will shine through.
    Thanks. I hope your job isn’t too stressful.

  5. What you are describing – the difficulties of dealing with the emotional pain of helping people – is one of the reasons that I have deliberately chosen to avoid social work as an adult. I don’t think I have the ability to let it go once I come home (eg, I’m not well suited for the role).

    Besides, having a foster sister who had been raped by her own father taught me enough about the realities of human misery.

    I commend you for having the selflessness to do this.

    I have an annoying atheistic question to ask. I was wondering what your position on Jehovah’s role in suffering is? I notice that you mention pitying him for witnessing such human suffering all the time. Yet according to most Christians Jehovah is omnipotent. I guess my question is, why do you pity Jehovah when he foresaw, planned and executed this?

    • Leaving it at the office is incredibly difficult! I think my line of work is odd, in a way, because it’s the sort of thing that no one ultimately wants to be doing. All of us (social workers) wish our job wasn’t necessary. But it is.

      As for your annoyingly atheistic question, I’m quite anxious to answer it but it takes way more explaining than I can fit into a single comment- so be waiting for a post about it.

  6. I would be a poor atheist indeed if i did not applaude this post.

    Actually, i find that if i do fall in love with someone, i cannot break away from that. I simply continue caring and worrying, even if they do not. It does hurt. Alot

  7. Changing the world by changing the face of love; showing others the compassion and mercy that God showed me; loving with an unconditional, unrelenting love, that’s what it’s all about. Loving someone may break your heart but not loving them may break theirs and in my humble opinion, the former is a little easier to heal from than the latter. So love through rejection, love through mistrust, love because you never know who’s heart your mending, who’s faith your restoring and who’s life you’re saving with such a simple act.

    Thank you for the work that you do.

  8. somebody told me that the Bad Memories that I cling to mean that I haven’t completely given those memories to God, which is why I can’t let them go… I don’t agree w/that somebody. Do you?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s