Pain is relative. I will never experience the sorrow you know because I am not you, and even if our situations look similar, they are completely different. We will never know someone else’s pain, not even those who are closest to us. This is why I believe, that although pain is universal, it is unmistakably lonely. We are all in it together, by ourselves.
In this day and age, one that is defined by rapid response and technological communication, those of us experiencing sorrow of any kind, find ourselves even more withdrawn with the simple touch of our pointer finger. Launch the app, and sob.
I like Facebook. Snapchat, Insta, Marco Polo… fill in the blank. But what used to be catching up on old friends lives, laughing at some crazy political meme, or posting a picture of my own family, has turned into one more puncture wound in my chest.
You and I both understand that social media is both a blessing and a curse. We see it daily. I don’t need to convince you of it, for all of us have experienced both sides of the wonders of technology. When yet another one of your friends posts their due date, ultrasound pic, gender reveal, or weekly pregnancy shot, and you sit, thumbing, tummy empty and heart broken, the only answer is to delete it all.
So I did. I deleted Facebook off my phone. I tried to stay connected with a couple other apps but they too eventually dropped off.
Some people may accuse me of making their beautiful moment about my pain. Maybe that’s true, but do you blame me? Or maybe it’s just recognizing that those posts meant for joy bury themselves as knives into my heart. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just the nature of pain.
Many people believe that Facebook, and texting, and all those other apps, breed isolation and ingenuity. I beg to differ. I believe they breed self pity.
And I do. I pity myself. When I shoved ice packs into my bra to soothe engorgement and wore two sports bras to stop the milk from coming in, when I planned the memorial service for my son and picked up the roses from the flower shop, when I held the ashes of my child on my chest just so he could hear my heartbeat again, when I pulled out the plaster molds of his tiny feet and kissed them, and when I packed up the brand new onesies and the “I’m a big brother shirt”, I pitied myself. You see, I do enough pitying on my own, I don’t need the world to make me do more of it.
My uncle John, a truly amazing man, has sent me bible verses every day, without fail, for the last 3 years. Some days they touch my heart more than others. Last week he sent me this:
Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
There is no human on earth who will ever understand our individual sorrow. Not my husband, not my two loving sisters, not even my own mother. But we have a God who does. He lives in me, he knows my thoughts and feelings, he lived my life ahead of me. And he doesn’t just know my pain, he sympathizes with me.
In the New Testament, we see Jesus taking pity on numerous people who were hurting. Pity from God is empathy. The purest most raw form. My own pity gets misconstrued and twisted by the world, sin, and social media. My pity breeds isolation, ingenuity, despair, and lots and lots of tears. But God’s pity is a wellspring of grace and mercy, and it only produces miracles. His pity raised the dead, healed the brokenhearted, and ultimately saved us all. I have never needed a fresh breath of life and a mended broken heart more in my life. I need an empathetic savior. Thank goodness I have one.
So I choose to minimize my social media interactions to keep my devastating pity off the table, and let God pity me instead. My pity only continues to hurt me. But Jesus’ empathy will resurrect dark places and spark fire from ashes in my life. I don’t know what this looks like yet. Maybe it’s as simple as having more good days than bad days. Maybe it will be the birthday of my next healthy child.I'm not sure. But I believe I will stand in awe of what God does in my life in the same way the world was amazed by the pity of Jesus.