Here is a small sample of a chapter I worked on today about people watching you when you are going through pain. Remember, this is a “thoughts to paper” draft of this chapter and very rough, but gives a good idea where I am going with the chapter. Thanks and enjoy!
Holy Crap…finding God’s presence in your pain – Chapter 9
People will watch your Pain
What is it with a traffic accident? In Colorado there is an epidemic of “gawker traffic” that occurs whenever there is any kind of flashing lights on the side of the road. I am a true believer that people (although they wont say it) are looking for as much blood and guts as possible when seeing the red and blue lights of any kind of emergency vehicle. It really is interesting to think about what people would do if they actually did see something gruesome on the side of the road and have to mentally process it. I think when people see an accident they are thinking a few things; they may want to see if they know anyone involved in the incident, maybe they are thanking God that it wasn’t them in the accident or they want to see the level of destruction involved so they have a juicy story when they get to the office. I say all these things because I believe that pain and opposition in a persons life can evoke some of those same emotions to the world around them. Maybe people around them react based on the level that they know the person affected by pain. I know for my parents, sister and wife that my sickness has really challenged them in their faith and believe in God’s grace and power. People may also ask how a person is doing just so they can have the “inside scoop” when other people ask how that person is doing. When they are talking to the person in pain they are thinking in the back of their mind, “I am sure glad I am not going through what that person is dealing with.” I feel like for the years I was sick I encountered every one of those types of people in conversations or just in knowing that people were watching Yolanda and I from the thirty five different doctors reviewing my case and looking in my eye, to people in our neighborhood to friends and family in the church. I am not looking down or talking bad about those people looking at me in any of the ways I identified, I am just saying that its a fact that people will look at you and your life when you go through pain. I really want this book to be able to help people on all levels of pain and crap they go through in life. I firmly believe that crap happens in life and we have all kinds of opportunities to help others, help ourselves and let Jesus do something more amazing in the bad times than in the good. When people are looking at you and the life you are living in pain, God has just allowed you to influence and affect the path of their life in a greater way than you could ever imagine.
Before I go into some of these elements, always remember that it is your decision if you want to matter to other people or if you just want to “turtle up” and go into survival mode with your pain. Survival mode is the automatic reaction to a painful situation, but remember that the first, initial, gut reaction to anything usually not the right thing to do, think or say. I cannot remember one time in my life when I reacted to something and it turned out well, helped anyone or made me not look stupid and reactionary to a situation. When I stepped back, evaluated my situation and then ACTED on whatever was happening I always did my best to make the most out of the situation for myself and for others around me. This is not just you programming yourself to do the right thing when people around you are looking at your life. It takes effort on your part but it also takes the power of the Holy Spirit in your life to do this. In the Bible, Phillipians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” It still says that its “me” doing the things, but it is the power of Christ in my life that gives me the ability to live a life that is not only pleasing to him, but encouraging to the people around me.
There is one key thing to remember here; I am not saying I have done everything right with my attitude and actions when I came home from the eye doctors office with reports of moving closer to removing my eye, possibly going completely blind and probably dealing with medication for the rest of my life because of an overactive immune system. This book, prayerfully, is for you to read and learn from my mistakes and also to learn something from the principles of going through crap and not just getting through it but, in some way, looking forward to them as growing experiences.