Desert Meredith May 2015 copy

Sometimes pain becomes your friend. Doggedly faithful, it is always there to remind you of what you lost.  In the solitude that deep pain creates, you almost feel indebted. When you choose to move forward, even just a little step, it is as if you’re leaving someone important behind. If you don’t stand and bear witness to that old sadness, who else will? And what if you trip up, forgetting the lesson the pain gave you, let down your guard and crash to the ground?

On the other hand, what happens if, in all your loyalty to the ways you were wronged or the losses you incurred, you never actually live? I used to think that owning my part in where I journeyed out from my pain would take away my freedom, my rightness.  It would certainly mean I could no longer justify my irritability or make light of my dialed-down hope. What fun would that be? Why trade grief for ownership and work?

Oh, but it is so worth it. Owning gives back dignity, and grief is not all there is. It cannot be.  To own my part in how I have reacted to my losses is what it means to grow up into adulthood. God gives the gift of pause and the courage to ask ourselves whether we want to try to live differently or stay hunkered over our wounds, justifying our patterns. We repeat, and repeat, and repeat what we have known, until we know it is worth it to try it a more selfless, or braver way.  The Giver is always there to give a new day, a new chance, a new path away from our old rut.  He restores our glory in the giving, showing us no loss is so great that it can remove our ability to cope and to choose, as He is carrying us toward the light.

Sometimes we need to build a monument, stand back and let the great sadness wash over us, to remind us of how far we have come. We need to remember how the Father enables our hearts to withstand tragedy and how He has carried us to this very place.  We weren’t made to linger here, listless in the shadow of the stone we carved with our hands, crouching to avoid the sun and rain.  We can honor it by returning to visit and remember; yet a monument to pain is no shelter. So let us move out into the elements, playing in the sunshine, braving the wind and rain, counting on better shelter to cover us just in our time of need.

We are so much more than our circumstances.




Meredith SpatolaMeredith joined The Barnabas Center staff in January 2009, upon completing her Masters in Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and her Bachelors in Religion and Psychology from Furman University.  She counsels, leads women’s groups and teaches a seminar called “Hope in the Darkness” for those walking with individuals suffering from depression or bipolar disorder. Meredith, her husband Jon, and daughter Charlotte live in Fort Mill, SC.


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1 comment

  1. Meredith,
    Thank you for this insight into balancing “heartache & hope”.
    I especially like the word pictures of “monuments” and “shelters” in the last paragraph. Very encouraging to my own journey of grief.

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