I can still remember it like it was yesterday. There I stood on the front porch staring out into the darkness. The tears came as they inevitably do and I wiped them away with a napkin plucked hastily from the kitchen counter.
I could just barely make out his silhouette in the darkness, as he stood by the open gate waiting for the car to pull around. I just stood there as I watched the gate close until the tail lights finally disappeared in the distance. And, just like that, my boy was gone again.
He hugged me in the kitchen before he walked out the door and didn’t let go until I signaled it was ok. He allowed me to linger for just an extra squeeze because he knew I needed it.
I asked myself, “will it ever get better?” Will I ever get to the place where seeing my kids leave is easier to take? Of course, my heart knows the answer before I ask it…No.
The pain I felt was raw and real, but it is not one that I would ever trade. Simply put, my then 20 year-old was happy and well-adjusted with a world of possibilities on the horizon. He’s now 23 and preparing to marry.
Ah yes, seeing my kids go rips me up each and every time, but I cannot envision a scenario where their closeness could ever be best for them or for me in the end.
Here’s the thing…pain delayed is no less painful. Sometimes we find ourselves avoiding difficult situations because we fear the inevitable pain waiting around the corner….we don’t want to cry and we don’t want to lose control. However, if you stop to consider the alternatives, you instinctively know that painful emotions are just part of the right course.
Although I feel this same pain every time my kids leave, it doesn’t dampen the joy I feel at each reunion. I bask in each and every moment even though I know another separation is inevitable.
Just because a decision or step is painful, doesn’t mean it’s the wrong one.
Are you dreading or putting off a difficult situation because you fear the pain it will cause for you or others? Here are a few steps for facing painful emotions.
Denial only prolongs your grief. When you try to mask your pain, you can inadvertently give it room to grow and seep into other unrelated areas of your life.
In fact, the field of counseling largely works on the premise of allowing people to voice their pain. So, find a way to express your pain. Crying, talking and writing are all therapeutic.
None of us know what tomorrow holds. Consequently, there’s no way to completely insulate yourself from what may happen or from something someone else may do.
Unfortunately, past pain can cause us to preempt all joyous occasions with unrealistic assumptions that the ball will drop at any moment. This impending feeling of doom can end up sapping the joy from every situation.
Instead, try to live each day for what it is. Take time to notice your blessings and express thankfulness.
In my case, my son’s departure was natural and right. When I am tempted to pity myself, I remind myself how bad it would be if he was not emotionally prepared to live away from home.
What would things be like if you had not made that painful choice? Sometimes, we have to move through the pain before we can open ourselves to new possibilities.
Don’t allow painful experiences to rob you of all positive memories.
Inevitably, you choose how you will live the rest of your days. Choose to let the pain go...choose to face painful emotions; knowing that God holds your future in His hands.
Jeremiah 29: 11
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Sometimes, pain is just a natural step in the progression of life. It is often through facing painful emotions that we find the strength and the impetus to tackle new challenges in the future.
But, we can be assured that God always has a plan and He always has our backs.