Many people talk and write about the subject of pain – the kind of pain that comes when we face some of the difficulties in life. There is a saying that “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”, and the idea is that when we accept life’s circumstances just as they are and not try to resist them or run from them, that we can transcend pain and find joy and compassion.
I’ve been trying to put this to the test this week as I deal with my mother entering a nursing home. It is painful for me to see her weak and dependent (not half as painful as this must be for her), but I want to be there for her and do what I can to make this time more comfortable and peaceful.
Difficult as it is, I’ve been trying to just be there – not minimizing this huge transition in her life by pretending it isn’t happening and also not wallowing in grief and despair – just trying to experience each moment as it comes and looking, always looking for God’s presence.
If I truly believe that God is love and is always with us, then I have to know that He is in that nursing home with my mother, and with me as I come and go and deal with all the practical matters that go along with this as well as the strong emotions that arise.
The only way I can find His peace, though, is if I quiet myself and just be in each moment, trusting that everything is working out as it should. And I find His love when I look into the face of each person sent across my mother’s path, and see God in that face, trusting that He is sending angels – both earthly and heavenly angels – to minister to her.
I’m sure I will learn many more lessons as we enter deeper into this experience. That is my goal though – to enter deeper into the experience, not trying to brace myself against it or think about how awful it is, but just to rest in God, experiencing the peace that “passes all understanding”. Pain doesn’t have to be the final word.