Mmmm…the bowl of steamed clams was set in front of me at the little Italian restaurant where I was having dinner. I was so excited…I love seafood and this was a splurge for me! I took the fork to the first little piping hot clam, giddy with excitement, and popped it in my mouth. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Blah…sand. I know it happens from time to time that a clam doesn’t get the full rinse…no problem. I picked up the next one. Crunch, crunch, crunch. More sand. I tried 3 more, just to be sure. After 5 sandy clams, I was positive that this dinner was a bust. Funny how those little grains of sand ruined the whole meal. I couldn’t focus on the flavor…the sand stole my attention.
There will come a time, if it hasn’t already, when you will experience a major emotional injury or offense. Someone will have wronged you, broken your heart or your spirit, and you will have to recover.
What we do in these times to address our pain in crucial. We have to cleanse our soul thoroughly, or we will find ourselves with what I call residual pain. Although we have generally recovered from whatever injury or offense, we have bits that we have ignored, set by the wayside, swept under the emotional rug. This residual pain settles into the little nooks of your heart like little grains of sand. They affect each area…only a little…maybe sometimes more when the water gets stirred up in that area of our life.
But here’s the rub…this residual pain…these grains of sand…will ruin the meal. We must treat our residual pain before it jeopardizes our opportunity for future happiness. Jessica, you say, “You’re being dramatic!” But I’m not…I’m being real. I’ve been there.
My first marriage ended abruptly. It was unexpected. It was swift. I had a choice…I could curl up in a ball and cry for the next three weeks (or months), or I could “pull myself up by my bootstraps” and move forward. I chose door #2. I was so focused on making sure that my little boy was going to be okay emotionally, and that we would not be left in financial ruin, that I forgot to honor my pain. To face it, to accept it, to process it, to grieve, to cry, to breathe, to pause…I forgot. And because I survived that trying time…I thought I had “dealt with” my pain. To the contrary…some had been removed through time and sharing…but most settled into the crannies of my soul like grains of sand.
Time passed and I met a man that thought I was amazing…and I felt the same about him. He loved my son…and my son loved him. We married. The seas of change stirred up the sand…I could not focus on the new happy…because the sand stole my attention. I was afraid I wasn’t worthy of a happy marriage. I was afraid it would end abruptly…the rug pulled out from under me again. I pushed my husband away, so that “when he left it would hurt less”. Thing was, he wasn’t going anywhere!
I had to pause and honor my residual pain. Not love it, or appreciate it, or acquiesce to it…but I did have to actually feel it. I had to put words to it. I had to pray about it. I had to separate out the reality of what had happened from the lies my heart was telling me about what was going to happen to me now. I had to intentionally point my focus on my pain…and siphon the grains of sand from my soul. Then I was finally free to enjoy my new happiness…with my full attention.
James 5:16 encourages us with these words, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.“
Today I want to ask you, where have you allowed the grains of residual pain to settle in your heart? What do you need to give words to? To pray about? To ask for help with? What pain do you need to shine a light on so that it doesn’t inhibit future happiness?