Pain remembered

I read the Psalms daily. Have for 5 years. Generally I would say, given recent thinking about the life of C.S. Lewis, the Psalms are raw and human, as his writings reveal he was.

There is also a new idea gleaned from my favorite author, Oswald Chambers, that of living a “perfectly actual life,” as opposed to an “actually perfect life,” which is another way of saying that life really is raw and human as well.

It is futile to say there is no death, war, disease or pain, when there actually is.

I read a Psalm this morning that screamed the following demand of God, as if throwing a fit.

“Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day?

Wake up! Don’t you care what happens to us?

Why do you bury your face in the pillow?

Why pretend things are just fine with us?

And here we are – flat on our faces in the dirt, held down with a boot on our necks.

Get up and come to our rescue.

If you love us so much, help us!”

Who dares speak to God this way! No one who grew up with a religion which they inherited.

Unless they fell down and broke themselves since. I remember coming to this attitude.

Even the other night.

But what prompted me to write was reading another Psalm just now. In it was one of those verses I had heard, like a lot of singular verses, which describes something that leads one to believe it means one thing when in context it is speaking of some other thing.

“And I said, Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest.”

Well everyone knows that’s about heaven.

Or not.

The context is actually pain. When I read the complete thought, I realized I’ve lived it, and felt it deeply.

“My heart is very pained within me, and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.

Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.

And I said, Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away, and be at rest.

Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah.”

I used this translation because of its poetic beauty.

“…terrors of death are fallen upon me.”

“…and horror has overwhelmed me.”

I’ve not been near death, but I’ve had emotional pain so powerful that “terrors of death” seemed an appropriate metaphor.

Sometimes I forget that this happened.

I don’t have to remember it.

But I don’t want to forget it.

I’ve often spoken about my corner room in my inner cellar, my emotional refuge.

Imagine needing relief so desperately that your imagination could believe it if suddenly dove’s wings sprouted, and one could escape and “wander far off, and remain in the wilderness.”

And “Selah” generally means, “now stop and think about that.”

I’m sure I keep thinking about this general subject because I wonder sometimes if anyone, especially those hurt by me, or those just embarrassed by what they heard I did, could ever imagine that I too experienced unbearable pain.

And that I sometimes remember it.

I intend to practice being healthy by not forgetting.


7 thoughts on “Pain remembered”

  1. “I don’t have to remember it. But I don’t want to forget it.” Beautiful.

    I think giving words to our pain is very healing. It is a form of acknowledging. And in merely saying, “this is how I suffered”, we can begin to liberate ourselves from the suffering.

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