Well, we’ve arrived at Day 30 of this 31 Day series on Braving the Broken. One thing’s for sure: walking through a trial or suffering is some of the hardest work we’ll ever do. It often takes every bit of our strength to push through the way things feel right now and the way things are right now.
As I’ve braved the brokenness, I’ve found that I am more than ever focused on me. My feelings dominate my outlook and my day and if I don’t focus on them and process all of them, I’ll never be able to move through them.
All of the change, all of the anxiety, all of the what if’s and emotion create a constant swirl that preoccupies me. I’m sure others never see this or know about it. But I am often a few miles away in my thoughts, actively praying or processing or fighting to take every thought captive and replace it with the truth of Christ.
And it’s not just that we’re so focused on ourselves in suffering. When we’re going through a trial or a painful crisis, we often find ourselves the focus of others’ attention. We can get used to others asking us how we’re doing and whether we need anything and showering us with hugs and texts and love. And, oh, how grateful I am for the caring and showering because it gives a soft landing.
We may find ourselves taking up the bulk of conversations with friends. Coffee dates with friends or calls with family can begin to feel lopsided. And much of this is so necessary and right and good. Sharing our worries and pain with family and friends is a large part of our healing.
But in the midst of all this self-focus, it’s also healthy to take our eyes off of ourselves and turn them to others. Because attention can be addicting. And because helping others in their need is also healing.
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When I realized that I was drowning in ME, I knew I needed to intentionally look for ways to focus on others. Some of the very same friends who had comforted me were hurting themselves. Loving them and listening to them deepened our relationship even more.
I was also very aware that people all around the world were hurting and did not have even a fraction of the resources we did. They were navigating diagnoses without health insurance or quality health care. They were trying to make ends meet as single moms and orphans with little or no community support.
It’s not that I felt sorry for them, but that I understood them. They were no longer a cropped picture from an undeveloped country but a mom like me. With children like mine whom they dearly loved.
We adopted a boy through Compassion International. I was excited when they assigned us a boy who was just about the same age as my Matt. We put his picture on our kitchen bulletin board and began corresponding. Our small amount each month could give this young boy a square meal daily and an education and could change his entire life.
We also started what we call Days of Joy. Every day in December, we looked for a way to bless someone else. It became a favorite tradition and one that has tremendously helped us take our eyes off US and onto OTHERS.
Who knew this too would be part of our healing? Another paradox from God — that in helping others, we ourselves are helped.
“Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7
This weekend, I’ll send out the final short post in this series and a beautiful scripture print to those on the mailing list. Happy Friday and many blessings as God knits us together as we meet each others’ need.
*You can find all of the posts in this series 31 Days: Braving the Broken here.