When No One Understands the Pain

My workweek was experientially rich. I could say “rough”, but I am going to choose the word “rich”. In my line of work debriefing is mandatory. In most cases a debrief means communication between two people in order to process confidential and often challenging  information. This communication practice, in my work setting, is to help me process what I’ve heard, and to help me leave the information in God’s capable hands.

This week I didn’t get the chance to debrief so I wrote instead. As I wrote down each experience a new realization came to the forefront of my mind. Sometimes, even when we are able to debrief with someone we are often still left with an unexplainable unsettledness deep inside. Why?

Even when the hearer is listening, a part of the speaker’s heart is never heard. I am not saying those whom I have talked to in the past have not heard me. I am not saying those who have talked to me have not been heard. I am realizing that as mere human beings, we are incapable of doing what only God can do. We cannot hear the heart. We hear sound bites only.

As I watch my adult children growing and learning and developing in their unique vocations I see a similar frustration across the board. We are family. We have genetic commonalities, personality similarities. Our faith heritage contributes to the way we experience this world as well. But despite our kinship, as we come together to share our deepest concerns, there can still be unseen tension. This tension or inner frustration isn’t because we don’t love each other. It exists because we cannot hear one another’s hearts like only God can.

No matter how much we love each other, there is a limit to our hearing and our understanding. I often think of this song lyric “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows but Jesus….”

If I could give my husband anything, if I could give my children anything, if I could give my friends anything – it would be these words:

When no one understands debrief with God – He hears your heart.

Better still, before we look for someone to understand – go to God first.

Climbing Mountains?

I don’t like climbing mountains, so I was surprised to find I am a mountain climber. The rocks are life’s challenges. The sheer height is fear of failing. The climbing gear is my relationship with Christ, and His Word. And the climb? My continuous choice to overcome.

I was looking for useful tools the other day for a friend who is fighting depression, and came across a podcast by John Piper (his youtube channel is Desiring God). Thanks Julie for suggesting it.

As embarrassing as it is to admit – I can’t remember which bible verse he quoted, but He tells us the best way to overcome depression is to gaze at God. At first I scoffed “oh come on – it can’t be that simple.”

You never want to give people advice that you can’t take yourself, so I pondered John’s words.

I didn’t understand.

“How do I gaze at You?” I asked God.

And then I sat very still and quieted my thoughts and waited. An answer came. You gaze at God by not staring at the world.

I personalized “the world”. What did that represent for me? I had been watching mystery/crime television, when I could have been playing music, or writing, or even resting. The information consumed left me feeling fatigued and restless. Images of struggle and death were the last flashes before I fell asleep. Not something a mountain climber needed to reach the summit.

A light bulb moment, fuel for the fire, energy for the climb! If you find yourself slipping, if you find yourself stuck, if you recognize you are out on a limb going no where – perhaps some reflection is needed on what or whom you’ve been staring at?

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22 (NIV)

Guess what? I skipped television tonight and wrote instead, as well as visited with some friends. Our conversation was very focused on….you guessed it, my best friend. tonight I think we’re going to be mountain climbing in my sleep:)

 

 

Even Adults Aren’t Grown Ups

Disappointment…

I can remember the first time I realized that even adults aren’t grown ups.

For a long time I couldn’t understand why people older than myself were treating one another so poorly. Didn’t they know better?

As a child I began to see that one’s past could very well have something to do with present behaviours. That realization helped me to develop a compassion. I began to separate the behaviour from the person, albeit not all the time.

When that exercise fell short I came face to face with my need for divine intervention. I needed someone who could give me strength and wisdom beyond my human capabilities, someone who could help me forgive others for their short-comings, and someone who could help me forgive me for mine. I needed God, and believed He wanted to help.

With God’s help I am growing up more every day. I want to be an adult that my children and grand-children can look up to.

“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”(Romans 5:5)

 

 

Moving Forward

The most valuable gift we can give to one another is the gift of listening. But once the period of listening has been realized we have a decision to make. It is always good for the listener to clarify what they’ve heard, but eventually both the listener and the sharer should make goals in order to move forward.

Making goals to move forward in no way means the information shared has not been taken seriously.

Repeating the same information over and over again does not help get your point across, but keeps you stuck in the past.

Making goals to move forward can be scary. Doubts can creep in, fear can put a freeze on moving forward.

Moving forward is absolutely necessary for the healing journey to begin.

*I know from experience that the deepest damage, pain, and trauma is healable.

If you are someone needing to heal from trauma, let that trusted listener help you make some goals so you can begin your healing journey, so you can begin to move forward, one step at a time.

Chances are that person (whom God can lead you to) may have come through the exact same thing. The listener is not going to reveal that right away, because your healing process isn’t about what everyone else has gone through. Your healing process is about you, your very real suffering, how valuable you are, and how possible it is to make strong choices moving forward.

We are cheering you on!

One of the Chosen

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I often imagine myself as one of the first disciples Christ called…drifting into shore in a fishing boat, and finding a stranger waiting there. Hearing him speak my name as if He’s known me my whole life, calling me to follow him and leave everything behind.

How is that different than Christ calling someone to faith today? We don’t get to see him in the flesh, but we can hear him, and we know He is alive and well.

And here’s something even more mind blowing to consider, was Christ not calling us at the same time He called his first disciples? It just took a few more years for our ears to hear him. “Simon/Peter, Andrew, James, John………Cindy” (Matthew 4:18-22). Was He not calling us before the earth was formed (Ephesians 1:4)

Many times when I face challenges and expect Christianity to be easier, I think of Stephen (another of Christ’s disciples), full of the Spirit, speaking to the crowd with such passion and love. He died that day, stoned to death, but saw Christ, standing at the right hand of God – waiting for Him in the sky (Acts 7).

How is my responsibility any different than Stephen’s? I too want to be ready to speak when the Spirit leads. Should I expect a safer outcome?

What does it mean to be called? What does the Bible say about the chosen children of God? John 1:12, Romans 8:19, Galatians 3:26

These word pictures and questions inspired me to write a song for our Church’s One Hundred and Twenty Fifth Anniversary, June 24th, 2017 at First Baptist in Olds, Alberta.

I could have written something about God’s faithfulness and our church’s longevity, however I thought it prudent to celebrate the privilege of being chosen, the cost of being a follower, and the joy of being an active part of the body of Christ.

“One of the Chosen” first draft

Verse: 1

I find myself dreamin’ from time to time,

how destiny called this heart of mine.

I hear the soft shuffle of sandals in sand

and reach out to take his hand.

His voice is familiar but I don’t know why,

He asks me to leave all I’ve known behind

I follow his footprints, and the Sea disappears

I awake to find I am here.

Chorus:

Here standing on tomorrow’s shore

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To take up my cross, to give up my life

I am One of the chosen the body of Christ

Verse Two:

I think of Stephen summoned to speak

The surge of the Spirit and the crowd at his feet

The smell of the dirt mixed with his dried blood

the stones where he once stood

And that voice so familiar saying ‘well done’

Christ in the clouds at the right hand of God

Stephen closes his eyes, and the world disappears

I know why I am here

Chorus:

Here standing on the alter floor

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To rescue the lost, relinquish my life

I am One of the chosen, the body of Christ

Bridge:

We are the chosen the body of Christ

Few are called indeed

May we follow our Lord with all His might

and reveal this mystery

Congregational Choruses

Here standing on tomorrow’s shore

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To carry our cross, to give Him our lives

We are the chosen, the body of Christ

Here standing on the alter floor

Called to follow those who’ve gone before

To rescue the lost, relinquish our lives

We are the chosen the body of Christ

©Cindy Palin/June 9, 2017

Our Past Does Not Define Us

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lyrics by Cindy Palin

Sweet Mercy

Emerging from a long line of sorrow and of rage

Curious as a child, who invited it to stay?

Long after hearts were hard, barraged by the world’s lies

Sweet Mercy had another plan in mind.

Though the journey faltered in temptation and despair

The prayers of the warriors compelled me on from there

Weak in my marrow but mighty in His might

Sweet Mercy kept the vigil day and night

And where the rage died, the peace grew

And where the sorrow tried to drown me, the joy broke through

Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy, Sweet Mercy

The lineage of hatred determines not your name

The blanket of oppression has no stake or claim

Though you’ll remember and mourn from time to time

Sweet mercy has another plan in mind

My past does not define me. Does yours? Look at the message of the Gospel and how Christ transformed lives. He still transforms lives today with His sweet mercy. He forgives. Have you forgiven yourself?

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:13, 14

Song written by ©Cindy Palin/November 22/06

Who Walks the Recesses of the Deep

The stars, the stars above the waters. I looked up and out of the oval glass, then down to the blackness beneath. “God” my thoughts echoed into His silence, “I’m jammed in this metal tube, above your great expanse.” “But your spirit has wings” He answered instantly.

Reaching forward I found the flight information with a touch of the screen. We were still about five hours out of Brisbane. The ocean’s trenches and scattered islands off the east coast of Australia were identified. Seeing the features described made the Sea less foreboding, but no less deep.

“It had to be deep God, for You to compassionately hurl our sins there” another spirit thought spoke (Micah 7:19)

Saturday I sat at the kitchen table sipping coffee and still thinking about the ocean, “the sounds of Your breathing, the mist of Your nostrils, and yes, the depths of Your love.” I searched the web for those same “trench” names glowing on the airplane screen, instead I found a 3D map of the ocean floor, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-07/3d-map-of-australia-seafloor/5372132

I gazed at the swirls and globs of turquoise and teal clay on the map. I imagined Your hand reaching for Your magic dust. “Do You, the Master of the universe keep Your coloured paints in jars, or do you just think, and it appears?” It was You who first whispered the idea of colour, and their hints and hues into the world and our ears, as life burst forth from the womb.

“Do You have tools like we do, with wooden handles and sliver blades, to scrape the ocean floor and shape the underwater mountain ranges?” I asked and quickly scoffed at my question. “Of course not” I answered myself.

You trace the trenches with Your finger nails, and imprint the basins with the palm of Your hand!

My God, my God – who has “walked the recesses of the deep” Job 38:16.

 

 

 

We Need This Kind of Love

How do we find this kind of love? How do we grow this kind of love? How do we be this kind of love? (Pertaining to the song “All We Need” © Cindy Palin, Nov. 2005, posted yesterday)

1 John 4:17-21 (The Message)

17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

20-21 If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.

The reason why we human beings fail at love so miserably is because we expect love to be an easy thing. Many of us haven’t healed from past wounds. Many of us drag baggage into our so called ‘love nest”, and expect love to flourish amongst the garbage.

Many times we want love, and not God, and the two are synonymous. God first loved us and because He did, it is possible through him to love unconditionally, without fear, and with forgiveness and faithfulness.

We cannot truly love without the author of love.

All we need is love? The love we need is God, and then everything else will take shape accordingly.

Beware, love grows at different rates. Our friendships, our commitments, our covenants are not about choosing the drive through. Instant love does not exist. Instant love is temporary pleasure, and then you feel emptier than when you first started searching.

God’s love transforms us so that we are able to love others, love our spouses, love our children, and their children and cultivate generations of love.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Do you believe you need to know God to love? Do you recognize there is baggage in your life, sin that is weighing you down? Perhaps you are all too painfully aware of the baggage you carry, the confusion you brought into your relationship – ask for help. Put your pride aside. I recommend laying out on the floor face down – and ask for help. Don’t trust in your own strength, your own sense of responsibility or lack thereof. We can do all things through Him and by His strength (Phil 4:13).

Walk in His love, and you will be love to others.

Ephesians 5:2 The Message 

1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

 

 

 

To Be Loved, Part II

I saw the lovely trio skipping down the street one Saturday morning. More like the little ones were skipping, while dragging their mom along behind. I’m not sure how we struck up a conversation. She was asking for something in particular and I must have thought I could help. I set a time with her to come by her place.

She had given me her number and I called first. The morning it worked for me to go for a visit the sky was overcast and grey. Most of the snow had melted but the earth looked like a dirty carpet. I could hear the brittle ice snap, crackle and pop under my shoes as I approached her building.

I rounded the corner in the sidewalk, and thought I saw God’s little angels painting the earth white again. They were dressed in nothing but summer lace crinolines and black rubber boots. They were hopping on the tiny patches of ice left over from yesterday’s melt, and giggling with glee each time a new crack cried out. They didn’t notice me at first, but I saw the door to their apartment wide open, flapping in a north wind. I could see their breath crystals in the air, and I could see mine.

Quickly, but gently I introduced myself and scurried them inside. Thankfully they remembered my face from our previous brief encounter. Their mother was on the phone, standing at the end of the stairwell. I could hear her deflecting verbal punches from who knows who on the other end of the line.

I glanced to the right where nothing but a large mattress lay on the living room floor. My eyes dared glance to the left where a years worth of dishes and dried food decorated the kitchen counter. Their Momma looked up from the phone, smiled and waved me in to sit down.

I can’t remember what it was I was doing there, but the memories of that morning never fade, and the words we shared gave more insight into her world. Here is the second verse to yesterday’s song “All We Need”.

Winter’s arrived, I find her girls out in their dresses

Palin lyrics/Google Images

The look she wears can make you question how she stresses

She married far too young and craved herself a family

Only to starve to death from the silence inside

She’d never harm a flea, but she’ll break on empty

All she needs, all she needs is to be loved.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard it

It’s not the last time I’ll see

It is the all too familiar – calamity.

Where do we find this kind of love?

How do we grow this kind of love?

How can we be this kind of love?

All we need, all we need, all we need is to be loved.

©Cindy Palin November 2005

To Be Loved, Part I

I met her when I was dating my (now) husband. Back then she was maybe twelve. Powder white skin and long ebony tresses. Not a care in the world. I noticed she liked to care for the little ones at Sunday School, like a Shepherd gathers his little lambs. We got to know her Mom and Dad a little, but when we returned home from our honeymoon, there had been an ugly split in the tiny church plant we’d been attending, and they were no longer around.

Years later I saw her downtown, and she had grown into a lovely young woman in her twenties. She was dating a young man with a high profile career, and excited about life. No sooner had I imagined a lovely wedding and dreamy future for this beautiful spirit, I heard about the break-up. I didn’t know how to get a hold of her to see if I could take her out for coffee and chat.

One day out of the blue I get a phone call. Did I remember who she was? Absolutely. She needed to meet me.

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I’ll never forget how I felt holding her hand across the table and watching her tremble. She was addicted to prescription drugs. Her Mother and Father had split. She had a child from a lover, but her child had been taken away. No one really knows how to determine which hearts break and recover, and which hearts crumble and lay down and die. Why had my little Snow White not found her Prince Charming? Why had there not been anyone to protect her from the wolves?

I went home that day and wrote this song. It has never been recorded, but remains to be a favourite of mine. Not that it is pleasant to remember the demise of a dear friend, but it is important to remember there is only a window of time for us to cherish and nurture each unique life.

I wait for her and know our meeting won’t be pretty

She’s cut her hair and tells me she is far too heavy

But I see the twelve year old I knew when I was twenty

Who used her up and left her second hand?

How my soul aches to see her shake drinkin’ her coffee

All she needs, all she needs is to be loved!

It’s not the first time I’ve heard it

It’s not the last time I’ll see

It’s the all too familiar calamity

All we need, all we need, all we need is to be loved…..©Cindy Palin, Nov. 2005

That same day, I went to check on another friend I had met on a Saturday morning, out shopping. I will share the second half of the song, which is her story – tomorrow.