Three weeks ago yesterday we had to unexpectedly put down our ten year old dog, Sophie. Since then, I’ve been thinking about the places of pain.
Sometimes, when the things that hurt us are tied to places or people, we’re able to quite physically move away. We leave houses, towns, jobs, relationships – occasionally, we’re allowed to put both time and space between ourselves and the other parties that remind us of our ache.
But sometimes, we must stay. It seems that sometimes we’re required to sit there in the darkness of pain.
It ended up that we needed to drive thirty minutes out of town to meet the veterinarian who could help us end Sophie’s suffering, so we did. And so it happened that Sophie died in the back of my car while I held her and cried.
The next day, I drove that same car past the very place where it had happened. I can’t get rid of my car. I can’t stop using the road where it happened. I began thinking about the times in my life when I or someone I love has been called to stay where the pain is. I thought about times when we can’t (or choose not to, because everything is a choice) walk away or leave despite even the most excruciating pain. I think of friends I have facing shocking medical diagnoses, battling depression or addiction, grieving the loss of children and loved ones, navigating marital problems or divorce, rebounding after job loss, and those still nursing old, old wounds.
After spending some of my own time over the past few years staring down my own darkness, I have these things to say.
First, I do not believe we were created for suffering or pain. And yet, because sin entered the world and with it came brokenness and death, we will all experience suffering.
And, like certain varieties of flowers that only bloom under the cover of evening, I believe that God’s true plan of love, healing, mercy, and wholeness shines through in the hearts who show up to sit and wait with us while the darkness is all around. This is the plan. This is kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven – love that repairs and restores.
When Koby went to my car the next day, he found something under the blankets where Sophie’s head had been resting. I like to imagine that it’s her small reminder to me of what’s still there even when times are darkest.