Love keeps us in the present , inviting us to wholeness by blocking our flight into places of false safety.”
-Jan Meyers    Listening to Love

today is one of those days it’s hard to be present.
it hurts to be present and feel the pain of grief.
and when pain hits, sometimes i’d like to be anywhere but where i am.

but, i’ve come to know that pain cannot be outrun or dismissed. it just doesn’t work that way.  and the well worn paths i’ve traveled to for false safety are indeed dead-ends.
because pain’s purpose is of a most sacred nature.
it is at the core, an invitation from God to let Him break our tough, fibrous heart habits…and be undone for Love’s sake.

i first began to understand this years ago when it seemed that God was stripping me bare of the familiar things i clung to. the things i thought would save me. and sooth me. and insulate me from suffering.
it felt brutal and cruel.
and disrupting.  so freaking disrupting.

i still remember how i scratched my head at the thought of God using disappointment, disillusionment and loss to turn my affections toward Him.
it certainly didn’t feel like love.

but slowly i began to really get it. i began seeing that God had something ENTIRELY different in mind for me.  He had a deep, kind and abiding Love story in mind.  one that had little to do with a pretty, safe life.

my heart began to understand and see how i had looked to God for cooperation more then a reckless and wild Lover of my soul.

this broke me in the most beautiful way.
it broke me right down to the center of my demand that God do things on my terms.
but it also freed me down to the center too.  and it gave way to the undoing and unraveling that would make space for more of God.

and so it is that i have learned to befriend pain.
because the pains purpose is always meant to transform us and draw us to the Father as only affliction can. and at it’s most basic level pain demands something from us.

it jolts us awake.
then it pushes itself , like a strong-willed child, into the tight spaces we’ve closed off.  it’s like a stray cat that clings to our leg, refusing to leave.  because pain refuses to sit quietly and patiently by…instead it takes down our walls brick by brick and begs us to feel.  it pushes into the dark, tough tissue where there is no path-and makes new blood vessels to form .  bringing light and oxygen to places that had been dead.  as author John Lynch beautifully reminds us..

“God, if He is whom He claims to be, does not stop all pain or loss-but instead, wonderfully discloses channels of receptivity we did not previously know existed. Like new capillaries formed in training at high altitudes, the capacity to receive love increases.  And that, just that, somehow becomes more than enough.”

so if this alone be the reason for God’s disrupting and thwarting, wouldn’t that be worth the call to surrender ?  wouldn’t it be worth the muddling in those new directions to grow our receptivity to His love ? i want to think the answer will always be yes. but it’s still risky.
and my heart can still be timid and fearful at the idea of being rearranged.

so i cling to what i know. and i know that God’s interruptions have a divine purpose. and He means them to save us.
i consider myself saved by pain.
for it has lead me to the end of me.
it has brought me to the beginning of surrender time and again. and implored me to give in to the work of God. letting Him cut into the marrow of my soul in the most concise and beautiful way.
and this is the strangest gift of pain. it gets beneath all our strategies to keep love at a distance. it breaks down even the most stubborn soul and stretches the tidiest of lives. it makes us desperate.  and we cannot ignore it.

so today, i thank God for the affliction and loss He has allowed to come my way.
i’m not the same.
i have found His mercy in that hidden new tissue that Lynch describes.
i have let pain score itself into the tender tissue of my human heart, leaving it forever changed and rearranged.  softened and broken and grown in its capacity to receive the width and depth of God’s love.

i want to keep pushing into pain instead of pushing it away.
so Father keep blocking my flight to false safety and take me in.
cover my frailty with Your extravagant grace.
make me brave.
and keep saving me from myself.


for Campbell who we held for 7 precious and sacred days. and who scored onto our hearts the tender hope of heaven.  we long to be in that place with no more sadness or tears and see you there.  because of you sweet girl, we are forever expanded and rearranged… changed by the pain of grief in the very deepest way.  what a beautiful and profound gift.  xxoo







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4 Responses to pain

  1. Linda Spence says:

    Dear Jamie, this is so so so good. This has been a year of being jolted away, so disruptive and painful, and yet such a gift. New capillaries, new life, new places of surrender and ultimately new appreciation for the necessity of pain and what the kindness and goodness of the Lord looks like. Thanks Jamie for putting words to your journey to help help shine a light on the painful paths many of us are walking.

    • jamjobryan says:

      thank you Linda for your kind words ❤ i'm always beyond blessed when my writing and stories of wrestling can touch or put words to another's pain. not to lessen the ache but just to know someone else understands is such a gift. you have indeed walked the narrow road and tasted the deepest of grief my friend and i pray His mercy keeps meeting you in those fresh , beautiful places of surrender. i'm so grateful to be on this journey with you and would LOVE to grab coffee sometime xxoo jamie

  2. Maryhelen martens says:

    I love the phrase “ I consider myself saved by pain.”
    Me too! Thanks for inviting us to lean in not away from the gift of pain and suffering.

    • jamjobryan says:

      Maryhelen, thank you for reading and sharing in this beautiful but narrow road !! i consider it a privilege to speak of the hard fought for hope and braveness we share. may the Father keep meeting and transforming us in this sacred space ❤ by His tender mercy, xxoo jamie

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