it matters

It’s okay to say, “It hurts.”

Don’t belittle your pain; don’t compare or relativize it. Own it. Hold it. Say out loud, “It hurts and it matters.” Someone else always has it worse off. But no one else suffers quite like you—whether it was today, yesterday, or 10 or 50 years ago. It matters.

Don’t use the “but there are children starving in Africa” argument on yourself (or others for that matter). Pain is not a zero-sum experience. It matters.

Trivialities matter. They create the life we experience. It’s not living in self pity or self sorrow or victimhood; it’s refusing to repress and minimize our pain, no matter how big or small. It matters.

Some of us grew up in stoic homes and environments where the admittance of hurt and pain was negative, considered embarrassing or weak or unspiritual or a lack of faith. 

Stack it away, one hurt upon another, leave it be, grit your teeth and pretend it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t exist. Out of sight, out of mind. And all the while the weight quietly grows heavier, subtly enough to go unnoticed much of the time. Raging water weakening the dam. Until it breaks your heart open and you drown in everything that hurts, the pain you’ve refused to face.

Maybe suffering loses a trace of its sting when we begin to say, “It matters. It’s seen.” We surely don’t remain there indefinitely, in that dark room. But mustn’t we start there?

A death, a divorce, a breakup, the rejection or loss of a friend, a hurtful unkind word, emotional neglect, the failure of a dream, the loss of a job, depression and anxiety, unanswered prayer, sickness, endless waiting, a distant child or parent or lover or friend, or maybe just lack of appreciation or thanks for a small sacrificial act. Anything. 

Anything that hurts. Whatever it is for you, it matters. To God, it is worth many tears.

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