I wrote the following poem in response to the pain around me. While I was watching the news in my job’s break room on my “lunch” (read: dinner) hour, I heard of yet another school shooting where at least two people had died. I had just gotten done talking to a friend whose family is battling illness and pain. I felt like I needed a good cry; I was nearing a feeling of overwhelm and anguish because I felt helpless and depressed for these people. Then, I remembered how one of my faith heroes, Rachel Joy Scott, lived her life, and one of the things Jesus wanted me to accomplish on this earth—namely to spread His love in a world of pain. Here is the poem I wrote:
Love in a World of Pain written on : 3/20/2018
Hearts full of hate
Longings that will never sate
The pain inside them leaks
Who will dare
To be the one who will care
Instead of giving them just
A blank stare
Before we leave a gaping wound
In someone’s heart…forever
Before tragedy strikes
And we are left reeling
So to whom will you give
The gift of agape love
The sacrificial type from up above
And change someone’s life for good
Then, I realized that it would do no one any good if I just sat there and moped about all the pain in this world that I could supposedly do nothing about. I realized that I (and you too), can do something about the pain around us. One of the most effective ways to relieve someone’s pain is to be kind to them. Here are some of the ways that I believe we can spread kindness and love around us:
- Do not ignore, ridicule, or stare at someone in visible (or invisible) pain. Reach out.—On the second stanza of my poem, I write, “Who will dare/ To be the one who will care/Instead of giving them just/A blank stare.” One of the most aggravating things a person can do to another in visible pain is just to stare at them. I hate this because this behavior implies that the person in pain is crazy or weird for expressing and having these emotions. First of all, we are not in the position to judge others’ expressions of emotions because we do not know the person’s whole story. We don’t know if we would have really responded better or even worse than if we were the same place they were. Secondly, it implies apathy and a lack of care for the other person in pain because a stare implies that we are more concerned with how they are affecting us, than we are about the other person’s well-being. In various things that I have read about Rachel Scott, she wasn’t one of the people who just stared at or ignored people in pain. She reached out. She not only talked to them, but was willing to be their needed friend as well. We should follow her lead. If someone is visibly upset, just asking them if there is anything you can do to help, or just listening to them vent can show that you care about them. Yes, it does require some emotional labor to do this, but spending this labor can save someone’s life and is well-worth it! Regarding the school shooting that I just heard about yesterday, what if someone just reached out to the person responsible for the act of violence instead of just ignoring, or even worse, ridiculing them? What if their teachers or anyone around them showed compassion to them, and intentionally showed them several acts of kindness that would have demonstrated to them that they matter and that they could do something positive with their life? Reach out to someone in pain today, whether it is a friend or someone who no one would dare to reach out.
- Make it a point to be intentionally kind to everyone, especially the ones that could have hidden hurts. –On my birthday, I wanted the people that I work with the most to know that they mattered to me, and the hard work that they put in was worth it. So, one of the things I did was make them bookmarks with their name and their name meaning or meanings. Everyone has a name, every name means something. That is why we name people and some of our pets. They have intrinsic value to us. However, we typically don’t name inanimate objects. Sure, they may have some value, but those who you can have relationships with have infinitely more value and impact than any inanimate objects can. Several of my friends make it a point to be kind to others, simply by smiling and asking them “How are you doing?” Sure, it sounds simple, but how many of us constantly do it with a sincere and genuinely good-hearted attitude? Be kind, especially to those who are suffering silently.
- If you are religious, pray for people who are in pain.—If you are religious or spiritual, I would wholeheartedly pray for those around you who are suffering, either physically or mentally. Pray that they would be healed of their pain. Pray that they will receive some measure of comfort and peace, even in the midst of their pain. Pray that people around them (even you) would be able to and would be willing to help them in some way. Finally, pray that they will have the strength to get through each day, because this in itself is often a struggle for those going through suffering and hurt.
These are some of the ways we can make a positive difference in a pain-filled world. We can reach out to those we see that are visibly hurting, instead of just staring at or ignoring them. We can think of creative ways to get to the root of their hurt and soothe them with intentional acts of kindness and love. We can also pray for those who are in pain. Doing these things can not only alleviate someone else’s suffering, but can also show them that there is still love and hope in this world.