When the Pain is On!

TreesAre you in a painfully, messy marriage?

Are you going through an excruciating trial?

Or both?

When I reflect back on my life and marriage, I realize that when the battle was the fiercest and when the pathway seemed the darkest, God was refining us and strengthening us the most!

We were stretched during those times.

And God grew us in ways He could’ve never grown us, if everything had gone smoothly.

We needed the heat and friction of God’s refinement to smooth away the imperfections and blemishes of our hearts.  

We’re still a work in progress and will be till the day we die! But all this has made me realize that when it’s not gut-wrenchingly hard, we’re not experiencing deep growthwe’re simply coasting.

Sure, I love the times of coasting! And don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful to God for those times. They are blessings and reprieves from the hard seasons. But coasting is not what makes us stronger. It’s not what draws us closer—not really. Those times of “coasting” are simply “nice,” sweet memories that make us feel good in the moment.

Now when we feel “good” very often we want more of that good feeling and run fiercely away from the times of hard work and pride swallowing pain. Ironically, when we run from God’s growth through pain, we end up moving backward instead of moving forward. It feels like “movement” but it is movement away from God, while movement forward is found as we come near and submit to God when the pain is on!

I sometimes wish marriage, and life, was easier.

But it’s not.

And it’s not, because then we wouldn’t realize our need for God—when the pain is on.

Won’t you quit running from your pain, and instead run forward into the comforting arms of the One who loves you with His life?

What painful situation are you facing?

How can I pray for you?

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:7-8a (NIV)

Photo by col&tasha

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Joining with NOBH, Works for Me Wednesday and To Love Honor and Vacuum

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  • ah … the Refiner’s fire … nothing we’d ever ask for, all that we truly need.

  • Maurie Roselaine

    So true! I find that in the difficult times (which sometimes seem too often) I certainly do grow the most. Lately, He has been bringing my selfishness to light–marriage will do that to you!

    http://twainbecomingone.blogspot.com

  • I love the easy times too Beth! I often long for easier paths and lots of sunshine. Yet I’ve learned, just like you have, that my deepest growth comes from the deepest valleys. Thank you for this reminder today!

  • I’m working on piece that involves avoiding the big issues, thereby missing the opportunity for greater intimacy and growth.

    The world tries to train us to avoid difficulty, to gloss over it, to ignore it. And everyone who subscribes to that way of handling their lives is failing.

    My opinion, of course, but from observation and first-hand experience!

    Good thoughts.

  • With life changes – and because change is constant but not comfortable – we struggle. It’s as though Robert and I need to find our (new) footing at every shift.

    Sometimes the shift is exciting, sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes it’s a mess. It’s like we’re walking around in the dark and trying to find the light-switch – hitting our shins on ALL the furniture, wanting to be helpful but instead poking each other in the eye.

    If we weren’t living it, it could be a comedy routine… (I think the Lord has a great sense of humor.)

    I think you’ve hit it perfectly – when we wait for God to show Himself, the adjustment to the shift becomes clear. We just need to wait till he turns on His light…

  • I LOVE your illustration for this, Lori. It made me smile because I think it’s so true. Surely God looks down on us fumbling around for how to deal with the new or challenging situation and must laugh to Himself! But yes, waiting on God can feel very difficult, but like the pain of exercising, I want to realize there’s a purpose in my pain. Thanks so much for weighing in with just the right insights!

  • OutnumberedMom

    I know…I love coasting time, too! But as you begin to emerge from the refining fire, you see not only its value but its warmth!

  • Ooo, sounds interesting, Amy. I’d love to read it once you’ve posted it! I agree that our culture has really programmed us to feel that pain is a bad thing. And even as I wrote this, I write to myself. I need the reminder of God’s purposes in my pain. 🙂 Thanks so much for coming by and sharing, my friend!

  • Yes, I think that yearning comes from what’s “eternal” within us. We know we’re made for more than this, but for the short time we’re on this earth, I’m going to recalibrate my mind to embrace the pain of life. That’s where I meet God most! Thanks so much for coming by, encouraging me, and linking up, my friend!

  • Oh, don’t get me started on “selfishness!” That’s a weak spot for me and I know God’s purposes in the pain are “sweating” that right out of me! Thanks so much for you encouragement, Maurie! And also for linking up!

  • You won’t hear me asking for it, that’s for sure, Linda! But yes, I want to remember that God is up to something good and amazing, if I’ll just trust Him in this time of pain. Thanks for coming by, linking up and helping me out yesterday! You are an encouragement in my life!

  • That’s a great point, Laura Lee. I appreciate your linking up but, most of all, encouragement, sweet friend!

  • While difficult times are bound to come (they strengthen our relationships so we should welcome them) the important thing is to build our foundations so that when the storms of life do hit we’re ready for them.

  • oh yes & amen, beth. through long, discouraging roads, God has drawn my heart to not be so afraid of the messy marriage, and to lean into the pain of the journey.
    and EVEN, to dare to consider it a friend . . .

  • Angie

    I have learned that the only thing that is “easy” in marriage (all of life, really!) is mediocrity. I don’t want a mediocre marriage, I want a fantastic marriage!

  • You know I was going to include an additional point that you’re inadvertently bringing up, Tyson. I think the pain and difficulties of life and marriage have grown me and my husband closer and stronger. It’s not in spite of but because of the hard times, that we’ve grown more in love. Thanks for coming by and weighing in!

  • Yes, it is a great friend, Tanya. It’s hard to see it when we feel the pain, but what amazing blessings are a result of going through the pain with the Great Comforter! Thank so much for your post as well. You really flesh out some additional insights at your place that I didn’t here. Thanks for linking up, my friend!

  • Amen to that, Angie! I remember hearing a celebrity years ago say that “love needed to be easy or it wasn’t worthy of his time.” I feel like he really missed out on the best kind of love that’s developed only in the refining fires of life. Thanks so much for coming by and adding to the discussion!

  • yes, we were thinking alike today, weren’t we? 🙂
    thanks for your invitation to link up, i am never sure how stringent a host will be with the rules for her link up and don’t want to make any enemies. especially not you. (cuz i really kinda like ya. 😉 )

  • Beth, I really appreciate your thoughts on forward versus backward movement. I’ve never really considered it in that light, and once again you’ve given me food for thought!

  • Opps! for some reason my post linked up twice once as Hannah and the second time as When/s the Last Time You Wrote A… I don’t know why and I can’t find a way to remove it.

    Amen! Work in progress and proud of it! God is such a wonderful God though in carrying us through when we can’t walk or crawl. I’ve been guilty of coasting a little until recently, and finally God brought me into a breakthrough. But I’m just so aware of how generous He is! He still generously forgives and abundantly provides for my needs even when I’m coating… and even more so when I’m working with Him. Praise the Lord for His generous and abundant wealth of grace!

  • Hi… I just stopped by here through one of your comments on Truth in Weakness, and am glad to have found your blog. My husband and I have only been married for 7 months, but I can already relate to this. Our relationship has definitely not been easy. We married right in the middle of a handful of major life stressers. But I can see God using the messy stuff to make us better partners, and I can only imagine what the years and decades ahead hold.

  • You’ll never be an enemy to me, Kelli! I’m so glad you came by and linked up. Your writing is so deep, personal and revealing. I must make sure to change the wording of my “guidelines” for the WW link up. I wouldn’t want to leave you or anyone out who has such a great redemptive message! Hugs to you!

  • Thanks for letting me know how this helped you, Becky. It’s always one of the best kinds of comments, right?! Thanks for your sweet friendship and linky-support! I love being able to highlight your writing here! You’re truly gifted, my dear!

  • No problem, Hannah. Maybe Mr. Linky thought it was worth mentioning twice! 🙂

    It sounds as if you really resonate with what I’m saying here, Hannah, and for that I am so glad! I have those same sentiments about the goodness of our God. It’s always such a privilege to be friends with others who point the way to Christ! Thanks for linking up and encouraging me here too!

  • Glad you found me, Kim. I hope that you’ll continue to visit and find encouragement and positive challenges for your life and marriage. Thanks for being so vulnerable about your relationship. I always especially value the person who shares a brave comment! 🙂

  • oh yes, i’m a classic struggler of seeing the forest through the trees. and hey, i just noticed the other day that you’re hosting this link up! cool! while i didn’t link up this time, i def. made a note of it in my short list of link ups so that i can be sure to join you all when i’m able to — thanks, i look fwd to it!