Tuesday, August 31, 2010

At what age?

I Say A Little Prayer For You...Image by Christine ™ via Flickr
In church on Sunday listening to the sermon,  my visual attention couldn't help being drawn to an adorable four year old girl two pews in front of us.  Although bouncy and entertaining herself (and me too) she was quiet and when she raised the least bit of sound her grandmother was quick with the finger to lips and quiet shhhhh.  All in all, the little girl was behaving very well - she had already participated in the children's sermon and might very well have been wondering why she needed to wait through the adult's sermon too.....so up and down, up and down, and then suddenly she tipped back a little off balance and went down HARD!  There was a thud but her grandmother hadn't seen the slip.  Then there was a little gasp and a real sob - (I didn't know what the sermon was about at this point and couldn't really see her anymore) - but I could imagine the tears flowing and my heart was breaking!

Her grandmother, surprised by the tears, whispered, "Are you all right?"  I couldn't hear the response, but then the grandmother said with a little giggle, "Oh, you're all right!"  And then I heard, "I am NOT all right!"  Then the grandmother realized something had really happened and scooped down to clutch the sobbing child to her breast.  The lump in my throat was about to burst!  There was rocking and cooing and everything seemed to be o.k. again, but this little episode brought a big question to my mind.

At what age do we begin to disguise our hurts?  At what age do we begin to be ashamed of pain?  At what age to we begin to comfort ourselves as it seems to be proper that we're old enough to do that?  When do we begin to cover up feelings of pain, hurt, outrage, anguish, despair and why?  Do we hear big girls and boys don't cry or don't be silly, you're all right, or you'll get over this - it'll just take a while?  Those are natural responses from parents to children but as children hearing  one's parents, I think generally we take those words very seriously - maybe too seriously!

I believe we hear these words early in our lives, and regrettably we perpetuate the theory that we have it in ourselves to comfort ourselves when we don't need our own comfort, we need the comfort of others.  We need the touch of others.  We need the listening of others to comfort us in the tragedies that befall us sooner or later.  Why do we perpetuate and/or push away those that would comfort us by the silly words, "I'm fine.  I'm doing better each day.  I'll be o.k."  When do we decide that physical pain is too weak to display, that a stiff upper lip is the best way to live through the storm and sorrow of our lives, that we can handle all human issues on our own - issues of death, desertion, divorce, job loss, empty nests, etc.  Why does it take counseling for one to learn that grief is o.k.; that our friends need us to listen to them in their sorrow and that we, in return, need their comfort in our time of need.

At what age do we begin to teach our precious children to comfort themselves?  Isn't there a better way for us to introduce pain into someone's life than just telling them, "You'll be o.k."?

And the HUGE question is when do we tell God that we're big enough to handle our lives on our own?  That it's fine for God to help others but that "We're fine, we're doing better, our loss isn't as big as someone else's loss, we don't really deserve God's attention, etc!"  I believe it's self-perpetuating, the myth of "being o.k." in the face of tremendous loss.  I'm faced right now with writing a letter of comfort to a male friend whom I have not seen or even spoken to in years.  I'm searching for the right words and hoping in asking these questions out loud that God will help me to write some word of comfort to a man who has lost his wife to divorce this year and now a 21 year old daughter to sudden death. Will he say he's o.k., that it's better each day, that he'll be fine?  I don't know but I pray that somewhere he's learned the lesson of hard, out loud grieving and that he will receive the comfort from friends and God in the loss of the most valuable gift anyone ever loses - their child.   I know you will pray for him in his loss and if he chooses to grieve alone, he won't really be......
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  1. This is wonderfully expressed. I was reading the blog of a friend the other day, facing a similar situation, and she asked similar questions.


  2. Hi! Just stopping by the blog to say hello! I'm certainly guilty of not reaching out to others, just trying to get through it on my own. Thought provoking post...

  3. I think the greatest gift is when you can get back to be the child who wants to share every experience with God the parent, the mother hen who wants to gather us all under her wings. If we know we share everything, know we are loved despite, in spite of everything, and if we do it for the little things then our heart automatically turns towards her when the big things come along.
    Because 'pain' tells you you are not ok. That you need comfort and healing or simply rest. Resting in God ....