“Will I ever stop feeling this way?” The woman’s voice was soft, muffled by her anguish as she spoke to the DJ. She had just found out that her husband was having an affair and was leaving her. “Will it ever stop hurting? I feel so alone.”
The DJs had asked for listeners to call in and ask a question they would like answered. Answers weren’t guaranteed—who really knows how many angels can dance on the head of a needle?—but it was a way for the callers to express what was on their minds. Questions ranged from silly to theological to personal. This one was a cry from the heart.
“Will it ever stop hurting? I feel so alone. . . .”
Brant, the DJ, comforted her as best he knew how and even talked with her off the air for a while. “You’re not the only one,” he told her at one point. “You’re not alone in your pain.”
Then two women called and shared their stories of betrayal and heartache. One lady was going through the same experience, and she told how her faith in God was helping her through this storm. The other told how she had been through this years before and had forgiven her ex, even though he was unrepentant.
Their voices shook. Their hearts still ached. Yet their words carried across the radio waves to comfort a wounded, heartbroken woman:
“You’re not alone.”
Not everyone will reach out to a devastated person, though.
During a dark time in my life, I felt utterly alone, as if no one else had ever experienced the anguish that was ripping my heart into pieces. At one point during my first pregnancy, I sat on a pew on a Sunday evening, listening to people ask my husband and me, “How are y’all doing?”
The pain was too great for me to answer, so my husband spoke. “Not good.”
Not a single person stopped to ask what was wrong or offer to pray for us or ask if our unborn baby was okay. They walked away and left us feeling alone and uncared for.
Some people don’t want to deal with others’ pain. Perhaps it means they would have to deal with their own pain.
Yet other people are willing to walk beside the hurting and broken. Like the radio callers who shared their stories of heartache, these compassionate souls have been in pain–emotional, physical, mental–and know how much a hurting person needs a friend. They’re willing to share that hurt, help carry the burden, even when it means remembering emotions they might not want to remember.
On another Sunday evening three years later, I sat on a sofa in our church’s youth building. Again I felt pain. Again I felt alone. And because of that earlier experience, I didn’t want to attempt sharing the depth of my hurt with anyone else.
A man walked over. “How are you?”
“Really?” Leonard obviously didn’t believe me. “What’s going on, Laura?” He sat down beside me.
I sniffled, shook my head, and shared my feelings, tentatively at first, then with increasing honesty. I’ll be forever grateful for his response that night.
- He listened. Really listened. (That’s a lost art in our culture.)
- He put his hand on my shoulder and prayed for me. (He didn’t say, “I’ll pray for you,” and walk away from me. He prayed at that moment, letting me eavesdrop on his conversation with God about me.)
- Then he shared his experience of dealing with the same issue.
Honestly, I don’t remember what he said that night; I only remember the relief of not being alone. Someone else had experienced that pain. Someone else understood. Someone had reached out to me and comforted me out of the painful memories in their own heart. The anguish was still there; the pain still remained in my heart; the darkest part of my life journey wasn’t over yet.
But I wasn’t alone, and neither are you.
- Have you ever felt alone in your pain?
- How have you used your painful experiences to help others?
(Repost from March 2010)