Joy and Pain
This song by Frankie Beverly and Maze has always been in my top 5 of favorite listening tunes. I personally like Jazz and the songs with no lyrics that allow you a brief mental vacation, but of those with words, this song always makes me think of real, true life. Many lines hit home, but one in particular says, "Don't it seem we go through life going up and down, seems the things that turn you on turn you around".
It not only makes me think of my own life, but the incredible lives and stories of those we meet in the recovery process. The trauma, the violence, the pain, the virtual stuck on stupid mentality that most of us have dealt with, surely always bouncing from high to low in a matter of minutes. It makes me think also of biblical characters like Peter, Abraham and David who also rode the roller coaster of emotions and events that make you shake your head in disbelief that anyone that close to God can stumble as they did. Easy for us, and for them as well, to be down on ourselves.
It can relate to these words from that song as well, "Suddenly the things you see got you hurt so bad, how come the things that make us happy, make us sad". Peter saw a way out rather than stand his ground, Abraham did what he thought was right, that turned out wrong, David saw what he liked, but it turned him inside out. We see things that we think will bring joy, only to end up in great pain because of it. Why oh why are joy and pain so closely related and so often experienced by momentary lapses of character?
David laments his feelings throughout the Psalms, and as Frankie sings, "when the world is down on you, love is somewhere around". Used to be that I looked for that love in every wrong place a man could, especially when I was down. But if I look to David and follow the trail of love to Jesus, I find that love being "somewhere around" is in a different place, and that place helps heal the pain and bring a lasting joy. No hangovers, no regrets, just pure joy that we are free to enjoy life without dysfunction dominating our decisions.
In Psalm 31:7-8 David absolutely nails it. "I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy, but have set my feet in a spacious place".
That spacious place is in a world he created for us to enjoy, not destroy. That spacious place is in the freedom to be ourselves, not want to be like someone else, or like someone else wants us to be. That spacious place is in never ending grace, not always feeling like we are between a rock and a hard place. That spacious place is in a world where we can share Good News, not bad news. And, that spacious place is dwelling in the house of the Lord through His Holy Spirit, where there are rooms for all of us, even the ones who have screwed up the most.
Sometimes it takes a whole lot of pain to get to the joy part. Frankie says, "Joy and pain, like sunshine and rain, they are both one and the same". I like that analogy, they are both part of the weather of our lives, both necessary to succeed. Like Jesus dying on a cross (the pain), only to rise to redeem (the joy). Like the Olympic champion skier who had 7 knee surgeries (the pain) before winning the gold (the joy). Or like some of us who used up life and everyone around us (the pain), before we found the source of never ending love in His mercy and grace (the joy).
So, if you are living life in a box, afraid to come out and experience both the Joy and Pain, remember that God is giving you a spacious place to set your foot upon, not a narrow rock to stand on that you may slide off at any moment. Just behind that greatest pain you experience, is the greatest joy you will ever know. Feel it, enjoy it, live life with every breath you take, and don't sit on the sidelines because you are afraid to take a shot because you have missed so many times before.
"Remember when you first found love, how you felt so good, the kind that lasts forever, or so you thought it would?"
We found it Frankie, but it took awhile!
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Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.