The Pain Won’t Last Forever

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Daniel Swanson Photography

Sometimes it feels like everyone I know is going through a difficult time.

In fact, the phrase “rough period” occurs so frequently in my mind that I’m beginning to question its meaning. Is there such a thing as a period of peace or a season of joy?

I do not intend to belittle the suffering of those around me. Some of the people I love most have encountered loss, chronic pain, abuse, depression, and severe loneliness. A few of them have left behind one terrible phase only to walk immediately into a new one – through no fault of their own. I have been there myself: after completing an emotionally exhausting final semester of college, I dove straight into a period of anxiety that lasted over a year.

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Daniel Swanson Photography

I remember sitting in my counselor’s office with tears streaming down my face. My soul was so tired. It had been a long time since I had walked around the house singing to myself or laughed – really laughed – at a funny conversation. Instead of offering a final word of advice as our session ended, my counselor looked at me with pain on her face and said, “Oh, Marie, this too shall pass.”

It stuck with me. I remember thinking, “She’s right. I won’t feel like this forever.” Even though I couldn’t see the end, chances were good that there would be an end. The future might hold other sorrows, but this one wouldn’t last.

Even though I couldn’t see the end, there would be an end.

The thing is, there are happy times in life. The Bible even talks about them. The book of Acts promises “times of refreshing” (3:19), and Solomon – one of the most depressed people in the Bible – wrote that there was “a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Why, then, is it so easy to identify people who are suffering and so difficult to think of a friend who’s in a good spot?

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Daniel Swanson Photography

Part of the problem, I think, is that we tend not to notice happiness. Suffering is big, bad, and ugly; it sends us to our knees begging for relief. Good times, on the other hand, often come disguised as normalcy.  When everything’s going well, we aren’t likely to comment. We share our urgent prayer requests and then forget to update one another when the storm passes.

I am living in one of the good times right now. It’s not a perfect time, of course – I still have healing and growing to do – but I have lost the slightly-nauseated feeling that haunted me last year. (Fun fact: I recently learned the difference between “nauseated” and “nauseous.” Look it up!) My prayer is that I would be able to enjoy God in the present as much as I needed Him in the past.

My prayer is that I would be able to enjoy God in the present as much as I needed Him in the past.

If you are going through something really hard right now, know that you aren’t alone. There are people who want to help. Your pain matters, and so do you. On the other hand, if you’re living in one of the good times – take note! Set aside time to celebrate, and consider sharing your happiness with someone. They may just need the encouragement.


The Reluctant Bride

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Daniel Swanson Photography

Learning Happiness

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Daniel Swanson Photography

Three months into marriage, and I’m starting to feel more like myself.

The green outside is making me happy – and so are a lot of other things. We’ve been lighting candles all over the house and watching ridiculous movies. My hours at the coffeeshop are close to full-time, so I’m spending less time alone. The hours I do spend alone I fill with fairy tales and jogs by the pond. My husband and I have even made a few stabs at home improvement, hanging curtains and purchasing second-hand furniture.

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Daniel Swanson Photography

It has taken me a while to get used to happiness. I had been so afraid of marriage, and my boyfriend and I had experienced so much conflict beforehand, that my heart entered married life a little raw. Any hint of frustration from my husband felt like rejection. To say that I was sensitive would be an understatement. Many, many times during the first couple of months, he had to hold me until I calmed down enough to talk.

I still have much to learn about steadiness. When my days off do not correspond with his,  when I haven’t gotten enough sleep, or when an eight-hour shift feels particularly long, I still tend to dissolve emotionally. In those moments, my best hope is to pray and hug someone. (It’s amazing what a good, long hug can do.) Slowly, slowly, however, I am learning to accept the joy that surrounds me.

Slowly, slowly, I am learning to accept the joy that surrounds me.

These days, I’m taking delight in small things: a line in a novel, the mood of the sky, the tiny pink flowers on a bush. The Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente gets me giggling during lunch breaks, and the movies Zombieland and Anger Management recently had me in stitches. (Disclaimer: I do not recommend these movies to anyone with taste or morals.) I’m also finding that I have more energy to pray and am itching to catch up on the lives around me. In short, I am becoming the happy version of myself, the one I had almost forgotten. My prayer is that you would do the same.

Lord, may we choose to notice the small blessings and pause to thank You for them. Build us into the free, joyful people You created us to be.


The Reluctant Bride

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Daniel Swanson Photography

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – Jesus, as quoted in John 10:10 (NIV)