Recycling Our Pain 

Sitting in an airport the other day, I overheard a couple who were sitting behind us speaking with their adult daughter. The mother was almost in tears as she described a recent incidence of vandalism at their vacation home. Evidently someone had destroyed a portion of fencing and had thrown the wooden boards onto her flower bed. What caught my ear was that she kept repeating, “I just don’t understand how something like this could happen to us.” She was literally about to cry. Admittedly I don’t know the whole story. Maybe there are other circumstances or issues involved. I don’t know. What I DO know is that bad things happen every day to the nicest and least-deserving of people, all over the world, in every nation, at every moment. If you’re a human being, bad things are going to happen to you.

Certainly, we Christians aren’t exempt from this. It might be shocking to some television evangelists, but even Christians are going to suffer in this life. Read about St. Paul, St. Peter, and the other Apostles. Google folks like Nero, Decius, and Diocletian who gravely persecuted the early Church. If we follow Christ, we must also follow in His suffering. And with joy. Of course, the source of sin in the world is our first parents’ rebellion in the Garden. All the pain and suffering since then has that same beginning.  

Along those lines, it’s been said that there is no original evil in the world. Everyone is just recycling pain. Think about that for a moment. We’re so eager to recycle things, but it seems also that we go out of our way to recycle that old, original pain of sin as well. My goodness, just look at the news these days. But you know what? Thinks have always been sinful and rough. Even for Christians. Especially for Christians. Jesus told us to expect this. His life on earth was an example of innocent suffering. We can’t despair and wonder, as the lady in the airport did, “Why is this happening to me?”

We have to take up our cross and follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). And do it with joy, confident in the love of our Savior. One thing that always helps me to do this is to do something for someone else. Nothing helps me to connect with the joy that is often hard to find in our broken world than helping another person. Cook a meal. Drive someone to the grocery store or doctor’s appointment. Ask your parish secretary who might need a ride to Mass. Visit a local nursing home and spend an hour with someone who never has visitors. You’ll be shocked at how many older folks never have any company.  

Take out your earphones and listen to the world around you. Listen to your own thoughts for a change. Turn off your phone and allow yourself to really feel what you’re feeling. Take a look at the people in your life right now. Listen to them. Ask them questions. What are their dreams? Their fears? Their loves? What can you do for them and with them? Being truly present with the people around us is one way of carrying our cross. For many of us, it’s the most important way we’ll ever have to share the love of Christ. Few of us are called to the mission fields, but we’re all called to love and serve our family, our friends, and our neighbors. We don’t have to continue to recycle the pain of sin. We don’t have to be what the world says we’ve become. We can be love.  

“…In the world, you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

             —John 16:33


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Catholic Cat
    Aug 21, 2017 @ 05:15:23

    I love that bible quote. Thank you for the reminder.


  2. Florence
    Aug 23, 2017 @ 03:11:08

    Especially enjoyed “take up your cross and do it with joy”, paraphrasing it. My husband has Alz, I’m hesitant to call it a “cross”, but understand quoting the Bible.
    I find taking up my “cross” with joy keeps me going when I begin to feel weary.
    Wonderful blog!


  3. Brian H. Gill
    Aug 24, 2017 @ 21:30:56

    Indeed. I suspect it’s easier to find the ‘being a Christian means everything is nifty’ attitude these days.

    I’ve also run into its flip side – that Christians should at least act as if their life is miserable. Maybe ‘blessed are the miserable, for they shall spread misery’ doesn’t have the appeal it once may have.

    Good points.


  4. aprilbenji
    Sep 30, 2017 @ 23:36:19

    Thanks for the reminder! We do recycle pain. God does want us to show love, grace, and kindness to those around us whether family, friend, stranger, or enemy! I know I get caught up in my own world and pain and forget to look around at those I could touch each day!


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