Pain is a strange creature. It takes many forms and wreaks so much havoc on a person's soul. It can be physical or emotional although in both cases it has great physical effects. I saw pain today, I have been in pain today. It's rampant. The more you feel it, the more you recognize it around you.
The worst pain is probably not something you can put a bandaid on or take a pill for. The worst pain is silent and cannot be readily seen by others. It's a slow torture in your soul of hurt in your deepest being. Something that seems incurable at the time.
You cannot choose your pain. It comes and overcomes all on its own.
I'm reminded of a book I read when I was younger, "This Present Darkness" by Frank Peretti. It depicts pain as a literal being that smelled of suffer and attached itself to its host. A leech, sucking the life out of its victim, effecting every aspect of their being and gleaning it's existence from the torture of another. It's a pretty accurate description I think. Ever since I read that book, I can literally see it hanging on others...on myself.
Today I was travelling home from seeing my sister. My beautifully pregnant sister who is going to be a new mother to my niece and nephew in a short while . After years of trying to have a family, she is on the cusp of having her dreams realized. However, pain comes, even to the elated. This mongrel with no regard for station or wealth, this indiscriminate vulture will do its best to suck joy out of the happiest of times. Hers comes in the form of worry. Overwhelming debilitating worry. The physical effects are so sad to watch as pain robs her of joy that she has been due a very long time. But what do you do? It doesn't seem to matter if you are a good person. In fact I think pain attacks those even more.
As I travelled home today from our visit, I stopped at a Cracker Barrel for a bathroom break. That's all I went there for, in and out and done. As I walked out the door and headed to my car, I was stopped by a woman. I am not scared to strike up a conversation with a stranger, but there is a dread that I feel when I am faced with someone who claims to be in need. This person was one of those. She chose me, I don't know why, to stop and tell her story to and ask for help. I could brush her off and keep walking or I could dignify her plea by waiting for the tale. It's a quick and hard choice sometimes. Today I was in no particular hurry so I listened. The next part is tricky. Determining if they are legitimate. Unfortunately there are so many dishonest people in the world. Trust is an issue because truth is so rare and it negatively impacts the plight of someone who really may need help.
This woman told me she was from Jacksonville and that she was staying in the hotel with her three daughters. She told me that she had been there with her boyfriend but that he had gotten mad and abandoned them. She had used the money she had to secure the room for one more day, but needed food... Would I help?
This woman was calm. She was matter of fact. She looked like a woman being strong for her kids. We walked back inside, I helped her pick through the large menu and we ordered everyone a meal. As I waited to pay for it, we talked about daughters and shared a story or two about each of ours. She was very nice. She looked me square in the eyes when we talked. She was genuine and I could appreciate that. I put myself in her shoes, stranded with my three children. It could happen in one way or another...to anyone...to me. We laughed a bit and finally it was my turn at the register. I paid for the meal.. A mere $27. And turned and handed her the receipt. She wasn't gushy or overly thankful she simply said thank you and leaned over and hugged me. I felt that pain, the survivor who had to depend on the possibility of there being a nice stranger to feed her children. That takes a lot. It would for me.
I left her in the restaurant waiting for her meal and continued on my way home.
At least I could help for a minute, relieve someone's pain.
Now what to do about mine. It's involuntary at times. Tears roll down your face and you can't stop them. You become overwhelmed with this knowing ache inside, this sadness, this defeat. And although it's emotional it tears you apart physically as well.
There you are, going 70 mph while trying to see through foggy eyes. A soul's lament..for what? For being wronged, or forgotten, taken for granted, taken advantage of....a harsh word, a neglectful stance.... It's all just pain.
Luckily, the tears spilling out have a cleansing effect. The dam has broken and relieved the pressure. If only for a while. Regardless, it strengthens your resolve and you live to fight another day. That's the cycle. Pain is still there, as it will always be, but it has subsided it's attack for now. It was flooded out by your tears....for today, for right now.