Thursday, April 12, 2012

Don't Waste Your Pain

Two Springs ago we lost two friends in the same week to cancer. It was overwhelming to attend back to back memorial services for people who seemed to have left a giant hole in this world by their seemingly premature departure from life. I have written a lot about our Young Life area director, Sweeney, who was 33 when he succumbed to metastatic melanoma leaving behind my precious friend, Cabell, as his widow. That week we also lost our accountant, Shane, a dynamic 38 year old husband and father of three.

As I type this post another friend, a single 40 year old mother, is in what appears to be the final of her Earthly days. Buffey has a mother and father who are far too young to be bidding their daughter goodbye. And her children--a 7 year old son and 5 year old daughter--well, I can't even adequately process the sadness my heart feels about them losing their mother. My heart hurts.

I live in a small town where it seems most people (even the transplants like us) are connected by only a degree or two of separation. Among those connections is the childhood friendship of Shane's widow, DeAnn, and Buffey. It has been inspiring and simultaneously gut wrenching to watch her author Buffey's caringbridge page and walk through the last year or so of treatments with her when her own pain is still relatively fresh. But nothing could prepare me for her post last night.

I am so incredibly moved by DeAnn's example of not wasting her life--especially the hard parts. The world (and frankly, most sympathetic Christians) would have given her a free pass. No one expected her to show up, to love and to serve in this way. There would have been very little judgment if she decided this was all just too hard and too much. But instead, DeAnn used her story to comfort Buffey through hers--knowing it could go either way, that she could be mourning the premature departure of another loved one. DeAnn loved Buffey like Jesus and she showed me more about Him in the process.

I am challenged to not let my excuses trip me up in the service God lays on my heart. He doesn't call me to do everything, but the things that He does call me to...well, I need to listen and obey...even when the world would say otherwise. "No one expects you to..." is a refrain uttered by well-intentioned friends, but our calls are usually between us and God. I hope I remember that before I flippantly offer advice to friends struggling with what God wants them to do and the next time someone offers well-meaning words to me.

When we are walking in what He has called us to (not just what our flesh wants to do) He will equip us, sustain us and USE it. Let us all be inspired to not waste the pain the world has brought to our hearts, but allow God to redeem it by using it to comfort and minister to others.

P.S. I hate cancer.


Brad & Stacey said...

I have read your blog for quite some time now- not even remembering how I found it. I am married to a pastor and we are church planting in Vienna, Austria. Tonight as I read your blog- my heart is heavy for a young friend who went into cardiac arrest yesterday, after having a pulmonary embolism. Her EEG showed no brain function today- and they plan to take her off of life support tomorrow.
I have really no idea why I am telling you all of this- except to say that your honesty and vulnerability is to be commended- and I appreciate that you are letting God continue to grow you as a wife, mom and friend. Thanks for sharing your heart and for pointing us again and again to the One who ultimately equips us, sustains us and uses pain in our lives to draw us to Himself.

Stacey Hunter

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for sharing DeAnn's post. So true ... don't waste your pain! God uses all things.