It doesn’t feel good, pinning your writhing two-year-old to the floor while he pleads for mercy in squeals of agony. And it doesn’t feel good, holding back tears, watching your wife cry as she applies more diaper rash cream to a reddened and raw toddler’s bottom.
I’d never tortured anyone before–Slumdog Millionaire style–but now, at least, I know I never could. I lack the necessary callousness, not to mention I hate conflict. And screaming. The only reason I fought through it was, as a dad, I knew the butt-cream was a needed remedy and vital for the long haul. It had to get worse before it got better.
It was an important reminder that I somehow managed to reflect upon as I muttered the most miserable version of Old MacDonald in Isaiah’s ear. On the other side of pain, discomfort, and conflict is, very often, healing.
In the life that surpasses the issues of my child’s ass, the healing we want isn’t always the healing we get. Or, at least, we are often in need of a greater endurance to help us through hardship so we can survive to another season of hope.
Those prone to depression and anxiety are often feelers. And, the thing about feelers is we tend to live in the moment but just not in the sky-diving way. It’s more like the prisoner way, and we lack the perspective to remember life beyond bars. So, when hardship is all we feel, hardship is all we know. We hear the Sir Winston Churchill quote, “When you’re going through hell, keep going,” only to climb back into bed, saying, “Nah…I’m good…I’ll stay where I’m at.”
When a death in the family occurs, or when a friend takes his life; when a job is lost, when life is just difficult, or when depression is rearing its head and you lull yourself to sleep with fantasies of not waking up, it’s often easier to wallow than to wait and work. But, if healing is what we want, we would do well to choke down the pill of hardship by embracing it so we can work through it.
An important part of waiting is accepting grief. Whether your pain is because of an external event or an internal wrestling, it is okay, and actually healthy to mourn over your hardship. It is when we remain in this stage that waiting becomes wallowing.
As you learn to wait for healing, learn also to grieve. Host a funeral for your pain, journal regularly, or write it all out and burn the paper. An outward, pseudo-ceremonial act, can often help us grieve appropriately so we can healthily move on.
It is vital that we cultivate hope as well, leaning on others to be reminded of the mentality that “this too shall pass.” There is life beyond bars. There is healing through hardship.
When we’ve allowed ourselves to grieve and have begun to recognize hope, it is then time to work. This is the time in which we face our darkness head-on, arming ourselves with valuable resources.
Seeing a mental health professional is a fantastic place to start, but if that feels too daunting for a first step, open up to a friend or family member about this difficult season. Whatever you decide to do, remember you are mentally responsible. No matter what you tell yourself, you have the power and the ability to get yourself into a position where you can begin to thrive. There is no need to do it all yourself, but if you want to see a counselor, it’s your responsibility to get yourself through the door. The good news is a professional will take it from there, letting you know of a few more practical steps.
On the other side of darkness, there is light. On the other side of pain, there is healing.
My son’s butt is better today. We are waiting patiently for it to heal, letting him watch a little more TV than usual and giving him time to rest. But, we are also taking the necessary steps to get him healthy. Butt paste, naked time, and baby-wipes made of paper towel and water (This was a game-changer, by the way, if your kid is being tortured from behind). I’m sure we’ll have more traumatic parenting moments, maybe even later today, but at least we know that just because something doesn’t feel good, doesn’t mean that it isn’t, in fact, good.