When you feel like all your hurt has gone to waste

It's the kind of thing that stops you from breathing, from thinking, from knowing where you are or what you're doing. 

It'll leave you reeling.

Desperately trying to recall the last time you felt ground beneath your feet.

​Wondering how long ago you turned left three times when you were supposed to turn right. Asking yourself when you'll catch your bearings again.

Maybe you saw it coming but you ignored all the signs. 

Maybe it hit you like a derailed train.

Maybe it's happened so many times you can't even feel it. Maybe that part of you is numb to pain.

Or maybe you thought it was, but the tissue never seems to quite thicken up enough and the whole thing rips open again, leaving you standing there bleeding and raw, carving out old shrapnel you forgot was there.

Then the fury sets in, and you're banging dishes around and forgetting to talk to your roommates.

You're caught in your head, playing the blame game, looking for any reason to hate, to fight back, to wound.

Life is excruciatingly and infuriatingly and absolutely unfair.

Someone else got what you wanted.


Big surprise.

Next thing you know, you are sitting cross-legged on your bed, desperately trying to get all the tears out, just like the foolish thirteen-year-old you can't believe you've grown up from.

You wonder how you could have let this happen again.

It's the same game, just with different players.

You're stupid and an idiot and it's all your fault.

Of course this happened again.

You let it, after all.

Let down the walls again and got too ahead of reality. 

Then heartache is the aftermath. And ache it does.

There's no better way to describe it. It's a thorn in your side, a constant battle to scratch away the memory of the whole damn thing and just move on.

​You wake up feeling lighter three days in a row, then the fourth day slams you down like you're an empty pint glass in a dive bar.

You know what, girl?

All your pain - 

it's not fair. 

It's not fair that the wound that just seemed to be covered over with new scar tissue has been torn into once again.

It's not fair that someone you thought was always honest with you wasn't brave enough to be honest after all.

It's not fair that a boy - not yet a man - has power to make you feel less-than.

It's not fair that he didn't chase you the way you deserve to be chased, that you were left feeling unimportant and neglected.

It's not fair that you're left standing in the aftermath of someone else's poor communication, or lies, or absentmindedness, or shortcoming, or sin.

You know what else?

It's not fair that the friend from home died in a car accident.

It's not fair that your mom has cancer.

It's not fair that you haven't seen your dad since you were seven.

It's not fair that you took a leap of faith and things aren't going how you thought they would.

It's not fair that you've been taken advantage of. 

It's not fair that you can't crawl free from the crippling depression and anxiety that has a grip around your throat every night.

It's not fair that you feel alone, like everybody has a somebody but you. 

It's not fair that you can't figure how to eat and feel okay or how to look at yourself in the mirror and see the beauty that's looking back.

It's not fair that you look back on the last season - no matter how long it's been - and regret all the time wasted, energy spent, headspace consumed. 

​I'm not gonna pretend to know exactly what it is that's making your tender heart throb, your stomach lurch, or your head spin. 

I'm not gonna try to comfort you. Because it's not fair. None of it. 

And I'm not going to try to fix you because I am you.

I am broken and bruised and torn and tired and livid and lurching. Right next to you. With you. Beside you.

Sin is the worst. It pits person against person and creates holes where there were never meant to be any. 

Unity was the original goal. We were supposed to live in perfect union with our Yahweh God and with one another as his created Beloveds. 

And we screwed it up. 

But you know what else?

"Nothing is a waste if you learn from it." (Thank you, The Oh Hellos. Bless you.)

And the only reason nothing is a waste is because Jesus was treated like a waste. God on earth. God in a body. Treated like dust, like nothing, like scum. 

Do you hear me shouting at you through this screen?


Did you hear me that time?

Not the weeks, months, years you spent wondering and waiting and dreaming, only to watch that dream die. 

Not the ache you feel so deep you think it might swallow you.

Not the wrong turns and screw ups you made when you were confused and battered.

Not the relationship now lying in shattered pieces on the floor, the one you seem to be picking up all by your lonesome. 

Nothing. Nothing is wasted.

Jesus died to redeem all of the crap that seems like just crap to you.

He died to dust you off, shine you up, and set you back on your feet. 

And he died to sit with you in your room while you leak those rivers of salt and hurt right out till there's no more.

So let it out, girl. Don't stem the tides of emotion that roll over like they're gonna overhaul your whole life. (They won't.)

Take it one day at a time.

One redeeming sunset, one conversation that isn't about you and frees you up so good, one day filled with joy and sentiments that seem to point to goodness all around. 

Then take the days you wish never started, too.

The ones where everything is in vain, nothing matters, you didn't do enough, you didn't live up to your existence.

Take those days to the feet of Jesus the next morning, knowing that he was with you the whole time, right in the muck walking hand-in-hand. 

Nothing is a waste. Just say that over and over till you believe it.

And someday you will.

You'll understand just what good he did with what you thought was wasted.

You might not until you're good and gone.

In fact, you definitely won't. Not completely. 

​But the sweetness of it all is that it's guaranteed to be better than whatever you could come up with.

'Cause what he did with all that life people thought was wasted turned out to be the best thirty-three years ever lived.

One more thought for your bleeding heart. 

If you haven't lately, take a little while to look or think back through your prayers the past few months.

What have you been asking God for? What have you begged him to do in you?

Is it at all possible that this pain, this ache, this new vacancy, that maybe it's part of his answers to your prayers? 

When we ask for faith, we get handed situations that need us to tear down and rebuild our faith muscles.

When we ask for a heart clean of the idols that tend to build up and clutter it, we may be torn away from things, people we thought would be good for us.

When we ask for greater trust, we are often allowed to experience life without guard rails - life that requires us to trust him because we are desolate in all senses except we have him.

It's a beautifully bruising reality, God's tender discipline, as our friend James recognizes:

"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

You know what, girl? Your pain has purpose because your God had ultimate purpose in the most ultimate pain there was.

And while all this is part of this walk we walk with Yahweh, whether this heartbreak is God-allowed or God-awful doesn't matter so much in the end. Don't let the either-or get you stuck blaming God or anyone else.

Because nothing really means nothing. And nothing is wasted. 

So chin up, girl, even if you have to let him hold your head up for you for awhile. 

After sunsets come darkness, and after darkness the sun awakes again.

The fullest, most stunning clouds bring the heaviest rains. And the earth always glows again after.

There's beauty and glory to be found on all sides of pain. All around it. 

Because right in the thick of your pain? That's where he is. Don't miss him. 

Waste not your breath by allowing pain to define your life.

Because the One who's defined you from the very start won't ever let a single breath breathed in pain go to waste.