Pain and Purpose

January 31, 2008

This month is gone. 

Time continues its march onward. 

One day bleeds into another. 

No clear direction. 

No space in time where things are normal. 

I wait. 

What can God do through time and its passing?

Long waits shift my attention to quieter, peaceful thoughts until she speaks. 

Then all feeling in my body rushes to the top of my brain; fighting to get out- no room, no room! 

Guilt, frustration, anger, resentment all push to get in the way of peace. 

Push, but there’s no exit. 

Brain tired, very tired.


Found this little snippet today as I was going through some papers. I wrote those words in January of the year my mother was dying. My youngest child had just been married. Yet, the joy of that day was diminished by the watching and waiting that was going on in my heart.  No day passed but there it was full in my face. Even more so when I was with her. The adult relationship that should have been a friendship that deepened over the years never matured. We were both stuck at 16- she could not relate any other way than she did when I was that age. No matter how much I wanted to have what others had in their relationships with their parents it never happened. 

Six months down the road from that moment I wrote those words she died. I went from feeling like a puppet whose strings were pulled every time I sat to rest or work or play or read or think to suddenly having space in my brain to breathe again. I never slept through the night in those days; her life always crashed in during those early morning hours when I should have been oblivious of the world around me. 

What, to the rest of the world would have been days of mourning and grief; were for me, only days of relief. Don’t take that wrong, I had been grieving for 40 years- since I turned 16. The grieving process does not escape even those of us who have severely dysfunctional relationships with our parents. There is anger, resentment, guilt, a constant pain in our hearts, and a severe longing that never goes away. The wishing for something that would never be-never left me while she was alive. 

I realize that this is pretty revealing and raw to post; but some of you may identify with it. I used to wonder why things were the way they were between us; I would cry out to God in bewilderment and pain- “What is it I’m supposed to learn in this relationship? Why can’t things be normal? Can’t you, won’t you fix her or me or something?”

I understand now, almost three years on, that there was purpose in that life and relationship and in walking through those days with her.  The understanding has come to my heart; in my head I knew there was purpose, yet my heart went on wanting what was never going to happen.

The perspective I’ve been given, for that is what it is- a gift that has come out of that seemingly never ending turmoil; the perspective I have now helps me to understand that my time is not my own. It is God’s to do with what He wills- to make me into the ‘me‘ He has purposed so that I can be the best representation of Him to others that I can be. 

I am still learning…


Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven Ecclesiastes 3:1

I have seen the burden God has laid on men.  He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3: 10-11

This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1John3:19-20

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