UpBeat Spiritual Living: What to Do With Others’ Pain
© 2012 Kebba Buckley Button. World Rights Reserved.
Everyone has challenges, and almost everyone has had very painful emotional challenges. Many times we find ourselves literally “feeling their pain”. Have you ever had a week when people confided in you about their conflicts, upcoming divorces, secret abortions, long-ago sexual abuse or adoptions, a dear one planning to marry a convicted felon, perhaps a relative getting a cancer diagnosis…and on top of that, your dog was found to have terminal kidney disease? We can find ourselves feeling heavy, bogged down, nauseated, overtired, fogbrained, and perhaps even sickened. When too many of others’ troubles are in our minds and on our hearts, we can become very stressed and even short-tempered with our family members…when the problems weighing us down are not even our own!
On the one hand, if people are confiding all these burdens in you, you are a listener and a comforter, and you are following Paul’s advice from Galations 6:2, “[C]arry each other’s burdens, and you will be fulfilling the law of Christ.” This means we should listen and be supportive, not that we should walk around feeling worried about others’ issues and losing sleep and feeling sickened by some questionable choices loved ones are making. If you can provide kind listening, information, referrals, rides to the eye doctor’s office, even a small loan you know you can forgive–do those things.
But consider: sometimes your friend or relative is experimenting with how to live life, and this person needs to learn, then live with the results of their choices. Christian writer C.S. Lewis said,
“Pain removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.”
Some pain is normal and healthy in life. It’s part of the process of maturation. If your kid is going through a breakup, don’t take on that pain. We have many disappointments in life, finding our choices may not have been the best. Be there for them, but let your kid have their experience, and you go for a workout or hike.
If you are feeling worn down by others’ cares, you are probably remembering to pray for their highest and best good. Please don’t pray for a specific solution. After all, who is smarter, us or God? Who has the overall picture, us or God?
Now also remember to pray for yourself, to be comforted and restored, as well. And thank God for His faithfulness and His hand of grace on each situation.
As 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 offers: 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
We must take care of ourselves so that we can comfort others. Get sleep, do extra yoga or hit the treadmill, drink plenty of water, eat fresh fruits and dark green salads. Roll your shoulders in a slow, stretching manner. And if you can afford a massage or energy therapy session, go treat yourself. Your being sick will not help your troubled loved ones! You at your best can help them greatly.
Will you take care of yourself so you can take care of them? Only you can choose.
● Rev. Kebba Buckley Button is the author of the 2012 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core.
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