Bring on the alcohol. Bring on the drugs. Bring on the 'retail therapy.' Bring on anything that will numb the pain and provide a small respite of escape. When you hurt so bad you cannot breathe, you can feel trapped in the pain, and literally, feel unable to find a way out. Well-intentioned friends try to buoy you up. "Things aren't so bad," they say. "It will all get better. Keep a positive attitude." Somehow, those comments seem to make the pain even worse. How is it possible to have a positive attitude when despair is lurking around the corner ready to eat you alive? You want to escape that lurking enemy and be taken to a place where the pain can't overcome you -- even, if only for a short while.
The pain comes in all kinds of guises. It may be grief that someone you love has died. It may be the loss of something very important to you. It may be the pain of hopelessness at physical disability. It may be the pain of not having a chance to make forward progress in life. It may be the pain of your lover leaving you. Sometimes, the pain is of your own making -- that is, you have made choices whose consequences have now come to roost. Sometimes, the pain comes from the hand of another who won't even acknowledge that they have hurt or betrayed you. And, sometimes, the pain comes as if from out of nowhere -- as if 'evil' has been randomly unleashed or 'good' has been categorically silenced.
Still, no matter the form, the initiator, or the reason, you are left unable to breathe -- left skirting around like a mouse after cheese looking for that escape that will anesthetize the pain until you are able to take a full breath again and even re-join the land of the living. The escape will keep you from the clutch of the lurking enemy for a brief time, but when you awake from stupor, you'll turn the corner and see those beady eyes threatening you all over again.
Instead of escape, you might train yourself to watch for a particular moment given to you by God. A magical, miraculous, mystical moment that occurs just in a hair's breadth between 'giving up' and 'grabbing on' to the edge of escape. That moment is claimed only when you are trained to recognize it and disciplined to act on it. Yes, discipline is required! Discipline, in this sense, is the ability to choose something needful even when it is not wanted. It is worthwhile to prepare and be disciplined to act on this moment that God provides because trouble in life will come. Of that there is no doubt. Life is unpredictable. While 'joy may come in the morning,' as the Psalmist says, ' weeping may endure for the night.' (Psalm 30:6) And, people, too, are fickle. Again the Psalmist has it right, "Had it been an adversary who taunted me, I could have borne it; but it was you, one after my own heart, my companion..." (Psalm 55:13-14). Those who say they love you today, may walk away tomorrow.
But, in that singular moment before grasping onto the escape that you think is your only option, you might try one of these things:
- Breathe in, and breathe out -- deeply and very slowly
- Say the Lord's Prayer
- Repeat a memorized Psalm (this means you need to start memorizing one now!)
- Start meditating - then and there, no matter where you are or who you are with
- Remember one thing for which you are grateful