The aches and pains of humanity are abounding. Tragedies are occurring in the lives of individuals but are also happening on national and global scales. There is plenty of sadness swirling and heartache seems to be lurking just around the corner. So what can you do?

Start by allowing yourself to feel it. 

As I write this, only days prior to September 11, I can’t help but feel a mixture of emotions as I reflect on the anniversary of such a significant tragedy. I remember where I was when I found out what was happening. Sitting glued to the TV in horror and disbelief. My dad was on a transatlantic flight and was then stuck overseas for a week before he was back on U.S. soil. I recall just feeling afraid before we heard from him. And then sad. Then afraid again. As we reflect, it is important that we honor the lives lost and bravery displayed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Equally important is that we own and acknowledge all the feelings associated with it. To not gloss over the significance is important – and right. I’ve sat with my feelings, remembered those moments, and processed with friends and family. 

While this anniversary is present, so too is the lingering cloud of the Covid-19 pandemic and the many ways it has impacted our everyday lives, mental health, and relationships. And then, there is global turmoil and tragedy happening in other nations that impacts our lives as we watch it unfold on our TVs and across social media. We all have reasons to feel heavy and weighed down, which means we all need to figure out what we will do when it hurts.

Tough feelings can impact our physical well being so at the most practical level, we must make sure we stay hydrated, fuel our bodies well, and incorporate movement into our days. While we are in the throes of emotional struggle we need to be extra vigilant to care for ourselves physically. We also need to make sure we are leaning into our support systems.

Allow Yourself to be Served

It is a tremendous gift to allow others to serve you and show up for you. I struggle with this concept and can unintentionally allow my pride to prevent me from inviting others in. I’m working on this and I hope you will work on it too. 

A couple weeks ago we had a very scary situation with one of my kiddos – it involved the ER and a brief hospitalization. I spoke openly about it on Instagram, even though it felt uncomfortable to do so. However, because I shared our struggle, I gave others the opportunity to surround us with love, care, and practical support. We had friends bring us meals and flowers. I had more texts and messages of support than I could count. Days later, people were still following up to make sure we were doing okay. It was beautiful.

When you allow someone to serve you, you are giving them the opportunity to love actionably. You are blessing them with the chance to contribute goodness to our world and feel the beautiful satisfaction that they made a difference. Don’t rob people of the opportunity to serve you and love you well.

Inviting others into your challenges and pain will also help you feel valid and seen. You will realize that although your pain may feel isolating, you are not alone. There are those who want to link arms with you on the journey. I also imagine that if you share about what you are wrestling with, you will learn that there are others wrestling too. Our pain is more universal than we realize and having someone say “I’ve been there too” may provide the sweet relief needed to persevere forward.

Then, Serve Others

There is plenty of sadness and pain to stop us in our tracks. But we serve no one well by being paralyzed by fear and darkness – not our community, our family, or especially ourselves. There comes a time when we have processed enough, felt all the feelings, and we must figure out how we will use our pain for purpose.

We have a real opportunity to shine bright in the face of heartache and to use our hurt to help others. It is a fantastic paradox that the best thing you can do when you are hurting is to help someone else. Because I’ll let you in on a little secret: If you are willing to push past your hurt and pour into the lives of others, I am confident you will be blessed through it. It is the “kingdom upside down” principle that the first will be last and the last will be first. As you intentionally lift others up, you will also rise.

The helping doesn’t have to be large or complex. It can be as simple as a quick text message to check in and share a sweet word. It could be providing a meal for a family that is dealing with surgery, a health issue, or grief. You could take out a good ol’ fashioned note card and send a heartfelt message in the mail. You have the ability and resources at your fingertips to serve others well. When you do, be prepared for the pain in your heart to loosen, as you experience the beauty of sacrificial love. 

When It Hurts: Receive Love and Give Love

There will be hard days and times that are extremely difficult as you navigate life, for all its glory and all its messes. Resolve to allow others to serve you when you encounter those difficult times. Similarly, figure out how you can serve others and live beyond yourself. We were created for community and have a responsibility to each other. To love and be loved are beautiful gifts to give and receive.

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