#20 The Pain Train

We have experienced an ungodly amount of change in the past year:

  1. We bought a house (Woot!)
  2. We fixed that house up (it is still a work in progress)
  3. Amy started a new job last fall
  4. My family story of origin has been altered drastically
  5. bunch of our closest friends have moved away
  6. I have accepted a new job at my alma-mater
  7. My brother and sister both had another child in the past 3 weeks.

These are but a few of the changes we are walking through. Some are wonderful, some are challenging.

If I were to guess, I would suspect that you could point at just as many changes in your past year as I can. I have, for as long as I can remember, longed for and feared change. It equally delights and scares me. The prospect of it invigorates my mind, but that same prospect paralyzes my body. Odd how that works.

I white knuckle my energy trying to control moments which feel beyond me. I find this odd in retrospect, because I actually seem to be at my best when I am inside of these situations beyond my control. When I get swept up in the bigger work around me, I am a much better husband, friend, teacher, coach, minister, and person.

I am not certain of much any more. I used to be certain of almost everything. I found certainty to be my safeguard. It was where I rooted myself and found my identity. It was home – warm and cozy… safe.

It failed me.

Certainty fell apart.

It crumbled around me and caused more pain than I thought possible from a mere belief system.

Deconstruction sounds like a good idea. It sounds necessary. I hear it spoken of often. It is usually packaged as an important step toward being a “rational” person. I guess that is probably true. I have certainly experienced it in the world of thoughts and ideas. Up there, in the ethereal realm, it is fun to shoot stuff down – to poke holes in other people’s small minded ideologies. It is the practical application that gets hairy. When it feels like the sky is falling and everything you thought you knew is crashing around you. Your own personal 9/11.

When a bomb is dropped like, “we’re getting divorced,” or “she is not going to make it,” or “you’re fired.” These things take that cynical deconstructionist mentality (that felt so smart) and forces a scramble for something to grasp – some sense of hope. The search for some semblance of normalcy. Unfortunately, it is not found again. That normal is gone. That thing will never again be like it was. Thus, we are scrambling for something which cannot be found.

We then spiral into the stages of grief. At first, these feel overwhelming. I have been finding an ironic hope in the grief process. It gives me a sense of a universal normalcy to know that I am able to walk through a painful process like every other human. It reminds me that my grief is not as isolating as it feels. That my pain is not eternal, and that my former cynicism does not protect me from such pain.

I am also finding a deep newness in what can be rebuilt from the ashes of what felt like absolute destruction. It felt final. Everything I thought I knew about life has been disproved. In that deterioration of my family of origin story, I have learned that love can take new differing forms. That love can be the thru-line of even the deepest pain.

So, these days I am learning to accept change, to set aside my cynicism, and that hope does not disappoint (Romans 5.5).

Today my friends, take heart. Do not be dismayed. Join in the universal pain train, share someone’s load and we might realize that the pain does not win.

Grace and Peace,




3 thoughts on “#20 The Pain Train

  1. The universal pain train. I don’t know if that thought originated with you, but your blog post certainly puts words to emotions healthy, and hidden. I believe beauty from ashes is a mysteriousGod thing… Life after loss redemption after rejection …all only possible through grace and a savior who recognizes and relates to the pain.

    Thank you for sharing your heart and thoughtful reality as your words bring comfort and shine light in the dark and hopeful reminders for what is in store… The pain train journey…walk on!

    Xoxo Sent from my iPhone



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