I never really experienced pain until I was a mother.
As a teen I certainly thought that my level of anguish over what seemed catastrophic to my teen self was beyond any pain anyone else, living or dead, ever experienced…
Oh, to be 16 and stupidly self-focused again.
But I had no idea what real pain and deep heartache felt like until I cared more for another than myself.
For me, this transfer of focus and newly honed empathy came with the birth of my first child when my heart first began walking around outside my body.
With the addition of every child, biological or adopted, I lost more and more of my heart protection and experienced real, raw, heart wrenching heartache as I had to stand by powerless to protect or free my children from their pains.
This feeling of powerlessness is all the more intense when the hurts they are dealing with are not ones that I can simply “love away.” These “boo boos” are far too deep and festering to simply kiss and make better.
This weekend I spent 12 hours on Friday night at the Emergency Room, sitting by the bedside of one of my children who was in incredible pain.
As we watched the hours pass on the clock above the bed,
waiting for relief from the pain,
while listening to the incessant beep of a monitor,
completely helpless in my ability to take away the pain,
I wanted to weep.
I have never known pain as deep, and raw, and aching as the pain I feel watching my son suffer.
The last few months have been heartbreakingly hard for one of our adopted sons. This child is being consumed with newly developed flashbacks of abuse that he had blocked out. Abuse far worse than any that were reported when he was taken from his birth family. Abuse memories that cause him to curl up in a ball, squeeze his eyes shut, and cover his ears, as he tries to “turn off” the movie playing in his head.
These memories of abuse are so painful that he expressed a need to do whatever he had to, to make them go away.
He yelled, and then cried, and then whispered in defeat, exhausted by the constant torment of the past …”I think it would be better to just die. Please, just let me die.”
So there we were, at 4:30 in the morning, waiting for the ambulance to take him from the ER to a place where he could be monitored, and stabilized, and get more help than could be offered in outpatient therapy.
And it was one of the hardest nights of my life.
You know, I once thought I knew what pain felt like.
But I didn’t…not really.
Watching your son, who has lived his entire life fighting for a chance to be loved and longing to feel worthy of love, drown under the nightmares of the past…
Nightmares so horrid that death seems preferable…
That is pain.
But while suffering through the shared pain of hate and abuse, I have also discovered the redeeming power of LOVE.
Maybe I can’t “love” the pain away from my suffering son, but I know someone who can.
Because He also suffered such pain. He chose it and bore it so that He could say to each of us,
“You are not alone.”
That is the pain of Gethsemane.
That is the suffering of Christ,
From our pain,
Please pray for my son.