The Iridescence of Pain

I apologize that I haven’t written for a little while as I’ve been working on my book!  I am taking today off because I wanted you to have some encouragement now – while we wait for other events to transpire.

I was thinking about pearls today.  Did you know that a natural pearl starts from a microscopic irritation or parasite that invades a mollusk?  Yup. The offending item gets surrounded as a way to protect the clam and as layer after layer forms to isolate the irritation, something beautiful and precious emerges.

In James 1, after some talk about the benefit of persevering under trials (and counting as joy?), a few verses later says this:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (Jas 1:17 HCSB)

Trials and irritations in our life can either destroy us; resulting in bitterness, anger, wrath and other not so nice attributes, or they can create in us character that shines for the glory of God.  Peace, joy, faithfulness. . . a gift.

A pearl starts with a minor irritation.  Maybe you have a major one in your life; a spouse that’s challenging, or a kid that has special needs, or a chronic health issue or pain. It’s up to you to decide whether you will take the irritant that you cannot expel (clams are unable to simply kick the irritant out of their shell), and let it fester or allow it to grow wonderful things in your heart.

Godly character cannot be manufactured.  Pearls can be grown and ‘cultured” – but they do not compare in the quality and priceless value of one that begins wild, organic, in the ocean starting with an irritant.  We can fake it if we want, but when compared to true character, we will pale in comparison to someone who has allowed trials to mold and polish them in the image of Christ.

I want to shine. I want to shimmer and reflect God’s goodness and love to me that covers all those yucky irritations in my life. Heck, I should have a glorious string of pearls at this point in my life!  Maybe they will be part of the crown Jesus gives me when I meet Him in the heavenlies!

I’m praying that today you recognize the beauty that comes as you persevere through trials so you can have an incomparable iridescence as the priceless treasure that you are to our King!

Blessings!
LGB

Pressure Cooker

I don’t have a pressure cooker.  But I’ve seen and heard about them.  You know, those large pans where you lock on a lid and then set things to boiling and the steam cannot come out until it reaches a certain pressure.  The benefits of a pressure cooker are that foods can cook much faster as the heat is distributed, “very evenly, quickly and deeply.” (Wikipedia).

Pressure cookers also have a “safety valve” in case the pressure gets too high and the gauge isn’t working. This keeps the entire thing from exploding! Kabooom!  Not what you really want to happen in your kitchen when the temperature is that hot.  It’s also not a pretty thing to happen to us emotionally either – spewing our negativity to all around us is definitely ugly.

Well, sometimes life can feel like this, can’t it?  When the pressure builds up and we can’t go anywhere with it.  When someone wrongly accuses you but won’t listen to your explanation or taken responsibility for their own sin.  Pressure builds.  When disappointments pile up, seemingly small, one after another.  Pressure builds.  When attacks come against you that are unexpected and you can’t fight because the perpetrator is unknown.  Pressure builds. When then bills keep piling up and the checking account is empty. Pressure builds.  When the kids keep whining and fighting and making demands and you get no break and your sleep deprived.  Pressure.

So, where’s your safety valve?  I’m feeling pressure in some of those areas. Through the haze of the steam it makes it harder to see things as they really are.  Sometimes I want to curse myself for being so vulnerable to pressure.  It makes me feel so emotionally fragile at times.  Sometimes being “human” is just not fun.   Is anyone tracking with me here?

I’m not saying I have this figured out. I don’t.  My only comfort is in reminding myself that God is maybe “cooking” me through the circumstances of life so that I WILL be more tender and sensitive to the hurts of those around me.  Can I submit to the pressure knowing that there’s a higher purpose to it all?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jas 1:2-4)

That’s all well and good, but still – what is my safety valve?  What’s yours?  Prayer.  Praising God with music.  Maybe coffee with a friend.  Oh, a massage would help (if the checking account thing weren’t the issue), a phone call to someone who understands, journaling, maybe just a good long walk to expend some of the pent up adrenaline that occurs physically when there are emotional challenges?  A good, from the diaphragm, scream?

How do you decompress?  Seriously – any ideas would be welcome because sometimes we share things that can help others.

Here’s a song by Billy Joel that kind of exemplifies the challenge.  Joel says “Here you are with your faith and your Peter Pan advice. . . and you cannot handle pressure.”  Yes, Billy, there is a cosmic plan and while pressure will come, there’s nothing magical about the fact that we all have to deal with it.  While I may not always understand God’s rationale for my pain and struggles, I can trust him and I am not alone.  In this we have a hope that Mr. Joel has missed.  Let’s not make his same mistake.