I’ve watched it for years, from family members and friends who live in pain:
The forced smile of the wounded.
I’ve used it myself, more times than I can count. The most uncomplicated answer to “how are you feeling?” is, “I’m fine.” Our mind can be fragmenting, our body howling in torment, yet we coerce the “I’m fine” smile. “How are you?” we inquire, seeking to change the subject.
We don’t wanna open that door.
If you allow it, pain can make ya hard, cold, angry, despondent and depressed. I understand the feeling of being shrouded in agony, seeing nothing but darkness and gloom. I’ve been there, and scoff at those who flippantly tell us to “think about something else,” or to “get up and get moving.”
Try telling that to the one asphyxiating in quicksand, bro.
Matthew 19:13-14 says, “Then the people brought their little children to Jesus so that he could lay his hands on them to bless them and pray for them. When the followers saw this, they told the people to stop bringing their children to him. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people who are like these children.’”
I have the feeling Jesus’ followers told the parents to stop bringing their children to them because they were, as many kids are, spirited, rambunctious, playful. His followers were so concerned about carrying out their duties they abandoned the simple joy which comes with being with children. “Don’t bother us with brevity,” they seem to whisper. “We have no time for childish games, we must be about the business of the Father.”
But Jesus, it seemed, always had time for the kids. They sought Him out.
Just so you don’t think I’ve taken a detour, answer this question: would kids think you’re approachable? Children are a great judge of character, and don’t want to be with those who are short-tempered or despondent. What would a child see in your eyes? Hope? Rage? Love? Gloom? Fun? Sadness? Laughter?
Listen, you can not let your pain speak for you, and push others away, ok? I know that’s our natural inclination, but eventually, people who love us and are trying to help will have exhausted their patience, and possibly even their devotion.
God’s intention is not for agony to transform our heart to stone. Life is a beautiful thing, just waiting to be discovered. I figure it like this: I can either darken the way of those I love the most, or I can light a candle and help chase away their shadows.
We need to stop playing the victim, and try and serve others, instead of demanding to be served, and heard. If we’ve let our struggles make us so self-absorbed we have no time for the laughter and frivolity of children, we’re long overdue for a change. I’m not simplifying matters or bowing to cliché when I say it’s as simple as choosing love over hate. Choosing patience instead of rage. Birthing laughter, not seeking pity.
Your heart may be strangled by all the anger and hate in this world, so offer a smile and a helping hand to someone else, and let your spirit inhale the fresh air of compassion, laughter, mercy and love.