While getting real with our hurt can be painful, it’s also incredible important to the healing process.

I can come up with a myriad of pain-inducing scenarios, but let’s get going with something simple, such as … I don’t know … a giant bullet wound to your shoulder which is bleeding all over your white tee shirt threatening to ruin your family Christmas photo shoot. You probably aren’t going to die from a bullet wound to the shoulder, but it hurts. Likely, you’re not going to bandage that sucker yourself while you mingle with your husband, children and photographers.

You, the perfect Christian version: “God created this perfect universe and this perfect weather. Despite a shoulder that is likely to get infected in gangrene, causing my arm to get amputated which would really put a damper on my Facebook addiction, I’m so happy to be taking a photo to commemorate Christ’s birth! Woopsie, that hurt a wee bit, but not a big deal! Jesus suffered and so must I. I give my pain to Jesus!”

You, the honest version: “Holy hell, my arm freaking hurts!”

The honest version isn’t pleasant. It might put a damper on your holiday photo session. But it’s also the only way you can get your arm fixed – an arm that will actively be used to hug your family for years to come.

We can’t just live in the resentment and anger that honesty stirs up – that’s where Jesus comes in. No one knows more than I do.

After about a month of therapy, I brought up, yet again, this idea of suffering and the Christian life. It had been a particularly trying week of parenting. My son’s focus was starting to wane. On top of considering medication for his tics, I also had yet another meeting with his teachers and the principal. At the time, my husband was working 60-hour weeks and was not sure he could make it. In my head, I knew Rex was doing the best he could to support our family. In my heart, I felt alone and abandoned.

“I’m starting to get more on board with this Jesus guy,” I told my therapist, who had been encouraging me to find a Bible Study and a church with some good solid teaching. “But I’m still so scared. What if I never get happy?”

Sam looked at me with his kind eyes and smiled. “Do you know the difference between happiness and joy?” he asked.

“Apparently not,” I said, trying not to cry.

“Happiness is dependent on your circumstances: ‘When my husband is more attentive to the family. When my kid’s tics go away. When my son starts focusing more in school.’”

He took a breath and continued, “Joy is what is possible even when our world is falling apart. It’s a peace that can only come from the Holy Spirit. It’s a peace that transcends our understanding.”

“That sounds so good,” I said, grasping his point immediately. “But how do I do it?”

“Andrea,” he said, shaking his head. “You don’t have to do anything. It’s all up to Him. All you have to say tell him is, ‘Yes.’”

I wanted to shake my head and cross my hands over my chest. I wanted to scream, “No! That’s crazy! That might work for other people at my church, but it’s not going to work for me. I am not a sheep. I am not brainless. I will not be led around by some shepherd who claims to want the best for me but first I will have to die to myself in order to get new life in Him. Not gonna happen!”

Instead, no one was more shocked than myself when I managed to squeak, “Oh, fine.”

And that’s when it started getting good.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

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