Pain: What I Learned From Depression, Grief & Brokenness.

It is just outrageous how much I’ve been growing. You know the first day you feel better after being horribly sick for awhile? You wake up and think, “MAN. I feel so GOOD.” It’s like that. I am in absolute awe of how good life is lately, and so grateful that God follows through on every single promise. My circumstances have not changed – but my heart has. I am proof that with God, all things are possible. Proof that faith reaps a great harvest beyond what we can expect or comprehend. Proof that healing is real, not just a code word for acceptance of your shit situation.

One of the things that has been breaking my heart lately is watching so many friends and beautiful people go through devastating loss, heartbreak, pain, confusion, betrayal, self-hatred and various struggles – and to offer no greater help than to say, “Go to God. He loves you more than you can ever grasp, and will heal every hurt and answer every question.” Because I know that it is one of the hardest things in the world to decide to believe in the midst of all this that God will heal. God will comfort. That one day, we will get to the point where we are on the other side, and become grateful for the pain we went through. Yes, grateful.

Note: I say pain a lot in this post. What I am talking about is the heartwrenching, deepest ache, numbing, debilitating, lonely, hopeless, rock-bottom, can’t move, can’t function, have-no-one-to-go-to, can’t breathe because your lungs are being crushed, utter desperation and despair type of pain. If you’ve been here, I am talking to you. I know pain.

We talk a lot about healing, about moving on. Growing up, ‘getting over it.’ By the time all of us go through about 20 years of life, let alone 30 or 40, we’re like children that have been hit by trucks on the highway – broken bones, internal bleeding, psychological damage, permanent handicaps, lost limbs. We cannot help but talk about healing, and we operate through our injuries.

We learn to forgive the truck drivers, over and over and over. As we should. But healing? For this we must submit ourselves to the surgeon. We MUST put our bodies, minds and hearts under the lights on the operating table and say, “Fix me. Please, fix me. I cannot.”

The last time I checked, surgery was never enjoyable. Stitches aren’t fun. Having chunks of debris being picked out of your flesh is excruciating. Having bones re-set is pain upon pain.

But tell me this: Why do you not submit yourself to the one who can heal you?

I didn’t, because I was terrified of learning to walk without my crutches. We grow to love what slows us down. I didn’t, because I didn’t trust a surgeon I couldn’t see. I didn’t, because it meant that I would have to lie still, and trust hands that I didn’t understand. I didn’t, because I thought I would get a cookie-cutter Christian treatment that didn’t fit me and my unique pain. I didn’t, because I thought I would die if I experienced more pain. I didn’t, because I thought healing meant, “God will use this for good if you learn to live with this hurt.” I didn’t, because I didn’t think God offered healing as the dictionary defines it: to make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; free from ailment.

I didn’t, because I didn’t want to be healed; without wounds. Because I wanted everyone to see what the truck had done to me. To remain injured and in pain meant that everyone would know – and when we are broken, we have a desperate need for others to know. To be validated in our pain. Because usually, those that hurt us are those we love, and consequently, those that hurt us are the ones that do not validate our pain – so we become living, walking messes of cognitive dissonance, silently begging for comfort from those who tell us that we either are not in pain or deserve to be in it. In my experience, I would accurately describe this as hell on earth.

I remember at a low point telling my friend Kelly, “I don’t even want to be happy.”

I have found that the greatest obstacle between us and God is pain.

Why? Because we are STILL like children in hospital. Crying, shaking, sobbing, and hiding…begging the nurse to not take us to the doctor, because he has needles, knives and scary looking tools. Operating rooms are terrifying.

An interesting thing about humans is that we never change from child into adult. It’s not linear. We simply add to and expand ourselves, until one day the calendar says we are an adult. The core of us is still a child. In order to get ourselves to that operating table, we must either choose to believe (faith) the adult that tells us it is for our benefit, or be sedated and held down. Faith is being a child, and choosing to believe something that scares us because we do not know it.

Last night over dinner with Julie, we were talking about my family, and I explained how grateful I was for all the pain I’d been through. Why? Because I have learned to trust the surgeon. I have experienced some of the most difficult pain, and come out alive. I have a compassion and empathy and love for others in pain that will never leave, that has been anchored in the depths of my heart by pain. [ You know we rarely remember exactly what was said or done, but we always remember how it made us feel? Emotions carry a greater weight than specific words and actions. ] I am grateful for pain.

The greatest lesson I have learned through pain is the character of the surgeon.

I have learned that it is his nature to HEAL. His heart to LOVE. His way to COMFORT. His purpose to make us WHOLE.

The second greatest lesson I have learned through pain is to trust what He says over what I feel or know.

He WILL restore; nothing is beyond recovery or worthwhile purpose. He is not harsh, he is not rough, he is not a punishing or angry healer. He will never send you away because the pain is ‘your fault.’ The pain WILL lessen, and it lessens through patient, steady, often stupid-looking faith. It takes time, but we must hold out, and believe. It will come. It’s a promise.

It is easier to trust a doctor with our bodies than with our hearts and minds, but I beg you to trust him.

But trust him wholly. His medicine, his procedures, his love, his way. We cannot half-ass healing, lest we end up worse than where we started. Always go back to him. When it starts to hurt, go to him. Again. And again. And again. When it doesn’t make sense, go back to him. When you freak out again, go back to him. When the result doesn’t look how you thought it would, go back to him. Always go back to him.

And there is no guilt or shame in asking him for painkillers along the way. But his painkillers, not ours.

I have glimpsed the other side, and it is good.

– – –

“This is what the Lord says:

Your wound is incurable; your injury beyond healing. There is no one to plead your case, no remedy for your wounds, no healing for you. All your allies have forgotten you; they care nothing for you. But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord. Because you are called an outcast for whom no one cares. I will restore life to you and have compassion on you, a city will be rebuilt on your ruins,and the palace will stand in it’s proper place.” Jeremiah 30

It was I who taught her to walk, taking her by the arms; but she did not realize it was I who healed her. I led her with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from her neck and bent down to feed her. – Hosea 11:3-4

I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten. – Joel 2:25

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13


+ ache +

there is an ache that never goes away. never ever.

i used to think this was you refusing to heal me, refusing to comfort me.

refusing to be the god that i need you to be.

proof that you are not the god you say you are.

but now i see that it exists to bring me to you, in desperation.

because you knew how human i was. and am.

you knew that if you comforted me the way i asked, i would never come back to you.

thank you for the pain.

for having enough compassion on me to allow me to have my heart ripped apart so that i would be able to seek you and run to you.

not because i wanted you, but because i need you..

+ photos from washington state, & thoughts on grief +

This has been a week for wrestling with new things, and very old things. The old grief, the new self-doubt, and new eyes. Grief is a strange thing. There is no feeling like it. It is debilitating and consistent only in it’s inconsistency in appearing. It scares me that visually, grief sits at the base of my heart and joy is at the top. It permeates a level that joy has not yet touched. I realized I’ve sought healing in addition to grief, instead of in it’s place. More on grief here.

Oh the mysteries of the heart.

P.S. I miss the Pacific Northwest and it’s rawness. The “closer to God” effect. I found the photos above from Deception Pass, Washington when organizing my library and am excited to go back again this year..

+ remembering. +

When I was twelve, my friend had a slumber party birthday. Best friends, silly girls, sweet girls. I was shy, and worked hard to get along with the other girls. Anna was my friend, that was all I needed. I didn’t understand the other girls. Cornfields, puppy, tire swing. After the day in the sun, we set up a spa in the basement to paint our nails. I was again unsettled, nervous; I’d never painted my nails. We soon discovered that I was the best. I finally fit in! All the little hands waited til I could paint their nails the best. For my own nails, I turned down every color given to me, until they got to pink. Daddy only liked pink. Pink is for ladies, I’d heard him tell my mom. Little girl pride, excitement, novelty.

A bit later, mom and dad picked me up. I wasn’t allowed to spend the night; they didn’t know all the other little girls. Still bubbling, I slid happily into the backseat. My hands folded in my lap, I smiled into the window at my reflection. Lauren Nicole. Yes?! Let me see your hands. Fear, panic, anxiety. I held my hands out, shaking, to show off my stubby hot pink nails with my special ‘glitter dots.’ Lauren. Terror. The minute you get home you will go to the bathroom and take off that horrible nail polish. But… No, Lauren. It’s trashy. You are not allowed to paint your nails. I will not go to church in the morning with a daughter who looks like that. Disappointment, hurt, shame. My pretty pink color was trashy. I was trashy. Daddy didn’t think I was pretty. Daddy didn’t want me to have fun with all the other girls. Daddy didn’t want to be seen with me. Those girls…they were trashy. Too grown up for their age. I wanted to be pretty, but pretty was wrong. Those girls were wrong. I was different, again. I wasn’t allowed to fit in, again. Just me, like no one but myself, again. Plain hands, again. I cried myself to sleep.

Ten years later.

Lauren Nicole. Fear, panic, anxiety. You are miserable because you haven’t repented for when you’ve dishonored your parents. You are the wrong type of girl. You aren’t the girl your father is proud of. Disappointment, hurt, shame.Your father has never hurt you, ever. You’re wrong. He’s always loved you. Your father has never treated you badly. This is all your fault. It’s always been my fault. Don’t expect a birthday card for the fifth year in a row. You don’t deserve it. You were the one that hurt your father, not the other way around. No! I was hurt! Lauren, your father won’t be seen with you, ever. I’m the wrong type of girl.

Note: I’ve had two or three people ask me if it’s wrong to post publicly about family issues. I want to say I’m aware of this concern, and I’ve wrestled with it in prayer. What I write is from the depths of my heart, and as a girl who is fighting to learn to finally speak these things, I’ve found a new ‘letting go’ and freedom in honesty of being open with past hurts. Despite everything, I love my parents very much. But this is me, my life, struggling to piece things together for myself. The encouragement I receive from all of you helps me in incredible amounts. Thank you for listening, understanding, and loving. xoxo


+ childhood mind. +

I know what I miss. I miss my imagination. I miss fairytales. I miss the story telling, the make-believe. I miss creating worlds and colors in my head. I miss using my hands to build a prettier place. I miss the beautiful things. The real ones. I miss feeling everything with my whole body – when the senses were still new – when I could find things I hadn’t before. I miss picturing what I wanted without being miserable that it wasn’t possible. I miss being able to escape reality. I miss knowing that life is what you make of it – in your mind, not by actions. I miss feeling. Wholly. I miss when the colors were brighter, the touch was heavier, the breathing more clean. I miss the universe as something astounding to be explored, not corrupted to be avoided. I miss my childhood mind.


+ this is what he’s for +

so often i feel like the child
that is
sitting on the ground waiting patiently
for my daddy
to finish building my bridge
so i can get across the river
while i’m laughed at by the neighbor boy
that taunts me for needing
someone else’s help
and brags
that he doesn’t need HIS
daddy’s help
because he is big enough
grown up enough
to do it himself now.
and it hurts.
and i sit
and stare at my hands
and wonder if maybe
i’m just too small,
not enough.
but then i realize,
as i tiptoe across my new bridge
made just for me
that the neighbor boy is still
because he can’t find long and strong
enough sticks
and everything keeps
despite all his efforts
indeed more effort than my own
and that on top of this
he is alone.
and it hurts.
and all i want to do
is go back
and take him by the hand
and kiss him on the forehead
and walk him across my bridge
and say it’s okay,
this is what daddies are for..

+ sick for what i’ve lost +


+ here to stay. +

more of this photo here.

the danger of a broken heart is not the pain.
not the tears, or anger.
not the ache, not the loneliness,
not the quiet, the empty seat, the bed now much too big.

the danger of a broken heart is what we have to repair it with.
mistrust, hopelessness, faux comfort.
the oaths we take. what we swear to ourselves.
the danger is self-reliance.

the danger is that these stitches in our heart don’t fall out.
that they are there to stay.
because they must.

the danger is that we know it isn’t about love anymore.
it isn’t about how perfect we are in our world.
it’s about how perfect we are in theirs.

the danger is that two became one.
and a half of one…

half is not whole.

but now we must make it so..

+ therapy post. +

this is my 62nd post on this blog.

my medication gives me the most bizarre headaches, and sometimes makes me socially irritable.

i don’t know if socially irritable is a recognized phrase or side effect, but that’s what i am.

my phone just died and i couldn’t care less.

i haven’t had a frappucino from starbucks in over a year, and i just gave it another shot, and i’m ready to take another 12 month sabbatical.

today, i want to be in love, and i’m not. at all.

it’s beautiful outside, but for the first time in my life, the idea of being in the sun is mentally stressing me out.

i am excruciatingly bored with the normal recreational activities and enjoyable ways of passing time.

i wouldn’t mind being a bird today.

i’m sick of feeling half-guilty for something i cannot control in the least.

i released yesterday.

my bedroom is a disaster, and it fits me.


+ have i found love? +

Preface: Over the last several years, I have suffered from panic attacks and periods of severe anxiety; this being the overflow of the fear that is rooted in the rock-bottom depths of myself: I must be perfect in order to secure a love that will never leave me, and I cannot be perfect.

When my dad and the anchor of my world stopped being a dad, and became simply my father, I realized that there was nothing I could say nor do to accurately express nor portray who I truly was, and how much I loved, needed, and wanted his love and presence. I realized that my security was entirely at the mercy of the perception [of me] of the person choosing to love or not love me. I had always thought that if they just knew what was inside…if they could just see my heart, they would never leave me, never be harsh with me, never speak against me, never hurt me, and most certainly never do the worst: abandon me.

Since I was 17, I have sought to find an accurate definition or picture of love. My definition thus far has been painfully skewed: Love is someone else doing what they think is best for you, and you earn this love from them by being perfect in their eyes. Read that again, and let it resonate.

The default definition of Love that I came to was Jesus’s death. But sacrifice didn’t seem to cut it – I can’t find someone to nail me to a tree, and even if I could, it would serve no purpose here. But today, I think I am finally seeing the beginning of the picture, and I want to share. The heart of it, I believe, is this: REAL Love is something that is always given in spite of you, never earned.

– – –

I am not loved because I am perfect.
I am loved because I am not perfect.

It is my imperfection that makes it possible for me to be loved.

The sole purpose of Righteousness is to be placed in a position where love unhindered can be both given and received.

Righteousness is the means, not simply the end goal.

My righteousness no longer comes from my being and doing that which is perfect (for it cannot guarantee love) – my righteousness comes to me in love, from Christ, because I am imperfect.

This is a new love(!); we love because he first loved us. This is a new love; one that is safe, and does not allow my imperfections to cause me to fall out of love, for it is these very imperfections that allow me to be made whole by a righteousness not my own, in order that I my be the recipient and also the giver of a true, pure, and honest love. Perfect love, that casts out all fear. This love is now out of my hands, forever. What peace!

Sin is missing the mark.
My sins are not my conscious slaps in the face of God with the intention of hurting him.
My sins are missing the mark of what is best – what makes me whole.
My sins are the actions I take that give evidence of how broken and hurt I am.
My sins are my desperate search to numb pain, fill emptiness, and feel whole – and fail.

My sins are my imperfections, not what makes righteousness impossible, or what keeps the aching hope of love at bay.

No, if I were perfect, I would not need a righteousness not my own. And if I did not need a righteousness not my own, I would never experience a Love that says “I want you for you, not what you can do for me.”

Again, my constant state of missing the mark is what triggers the outpour of compassion on me from a Father who loves me as a child –

Again, my imperfections ALLOW his righteousness to work itself out in me, which places me in the position we all hunger and hope for: to stand in the middle of a saturating love that does not rely on me.

At last, something I cannot ruin.

I cannot ruin this.

Love, forever..