On my drive home each day from work I see a billboard advertisement for a dentist office. The advertisement claims that coming to see them for dental work is not like going to the dentist at all.
While I appreciate their desire to lessen the association of pain with regular checkups at the dentist, I see this promise and desire span broader and deeper areas of life.
So often, we want to skip out on the hard stuff in life. Are you tired? Have coffee! Not working? Have more caffeine or stimulants! Can’t sleep? Take medicine or melatonin! Are you sore? Take pain meds! Are you busy? Have a vacation! Are you bored? Join the Y with one of 1935304 classes available!
It is as if we do not know what to do with the in-between places, especially relating to pain but equally relatable to boredom or almost any other emotion labeled uncomfortable or unwanted. We know where we want to be – on the other side of it – but we do not want to acknowledge the actual feeling as we process through it. We eagerly saturate the process with distractions and call this good because we think it makes it easier; truthfully, it makes us ignorant and numb.
I fall into all of these categories and answer all of these questions: I love a good cup of coffee especially the morning after taking something to help me sleep and I will take medicine for my sore muscles. I plan my getaways with delight and willingly add more to my plate when I have time not yet devoted to a commitment.
I am the one running through the hot coals of struggle claiming everything is good as my feet sear with pain at each step.
Because I honestly see the beauty in the brokenness – it is not a lack of sincerity. I can see the working out of my faith in the places that hurt.
But brokenness has sharp edges that should be attended to lest they pierce us when we ignorantly try to run through the pain.
The fact that life is hard does not negate that it is full of goodness. And all of the goodness does not negate the fact that life is hard.
I propose that these are intertwined rather than on opposite ends of a spectrum; both are needed for life to be lived with any amount of sincere joy.
But none of that means it is easy.
Sometimes, I need to sit in the space with what is available. Sometimes what is available is a struggle. Sometimes what is available is tiredness. Sometimes that space is full of awkwardness. Sometimes it is full of anger or hurt.
Sometimes it is just full.
And sometimes it is empty.
And this is OK.
It is OK to sit there. It is OK to just be there.
I am by no means casting my joys aside. I can sit amongst the brokenness resting in a peace that does not equate to the place. I can honestly speak of joy while also talking about heartache.
The heartache does not drive the joy away; rather, it increases it.
I can sing songs of joy with tears in my eyes. I can wait patiently for the promise of goodness because my hope lies in the Lord and not in circumstances. I can trust that the Lord is good – I can even taste it – when situations are full of frustration.
When I stop trying to fill the spaces that are uncomfortable, whether that is anger or silence using habits of facebook or exercise or friends, I can see not only the pain but also the goodness. And it is by stopping that I can see the moving’s of the Lord; his response to my need of him in these places.
That is the goodness. That is the joy. That as I sit in these hard places, I can invite the Lord there with me and rest in him as I sit in the momentary place of difficulty.
I can enjoy the pretty words used to describe the honest truth of the difficulty of being broken. And I can be honest that the difficulty of being broken is not necessarily pretty.
And that is OK.