living life forward . . .

I recognize this girl. Perhaps you do as well.

Every now and again, she shows up on the front curb of my heart, marks off her thirty-six inches of personal space, and refuses to budge from her spot . . . not even for the garbage truck. She’ll risk a little stink in order to stay there . . . stay stuck. There’s something about the sidelines that appeal to her. It’s safer on the curb, less risk and less trouble. Life is hard, cruel at times, knocking her out of the game and keeping her mired in the pain.

Life on hold instead of life lived forward. This is how the hurt never heals.

She doesn’t see it that way; she can’t, because she’s yet to take the first step in a new direction. No one blames her. They’ve stood by and watched the world take out its frustration on her body, mind, and soul. Heartache has numbed her desire, crushed her spirit, and pressed her to the curb. What used to be no longer is, a realization clearly seen and deeply felt there, along the sidelines, while the world journeys on without her. She grieves for yesterday, for what might have been had that soul-eating “something” not arrived to rob her of her progress. And so she stops moving forward, at least for today, and tells herself that tomorrow she’ll get in the game; tomorrow she’ll do the hard work of soul-survivorship.

Life on hold instead of life lived forward. This is how the hurt never heals. This is how the hurt never even has the opportunity to heal. A life resigned to the sidelines is a life resigned to less—to an existence shackled to pain rather than an existence shaped by its prod.

Yes, I recognize this girl—her tears, her frustration, her resignation, and her fears. Maybe you recognize her as well. Maybe she is you. Maybe you’ve been wounded by life . . . by a game-changing punch to the gut that has mocked your strength, rocked your faith, and kicked you to the curb. Life’s been cruel, leaving you with scars that continue to throb their witness. You carry around in your flesh a tumor or two, a soul-eating something that continues to devour your health at a rapid rate. You don’t identify it as a cancer—a disease that occurs when abnormal body cells replicate uncontrollably, thereby replacing the healthy ones. Still and yet, a hidden malignancy exists, and left untreated, it threatens to hold you captive to the one person you thought you’d never be—

A boy, a girl, . . . a man, a woman resigned to the curb—life on hold instead of life lived forward. A life where the hurt never heals.

God wants more for you, for you to live forward with hope and with movement. He hasn’t created you for life on the sidelines, despite the many sorrows and sufferings that have, understandably, pushed you to the curb for a season. Instead, he invites you, even as he has invited me, to take hold of his hand and to find your place on the road of faith—the journey of trust that leads you onward toward wholeness.

This is why I wrote Beyond Cancer’s Scars, an invitation for the wounded—those who suffer from all manner of ills and aches and soul-eating “somethings”—to step courageously away from the curb and to enter the fray to lay claim to a stronger spirit in Jesus Christ.

Life lived forward instead of life on hold. This is how our hurt begins to heal. One beautiful, courageous, and intentional step at a time. If you are someone who is living life on hold, then I invite you to take hold of my hand and, together, we will take hold of the heart and hands of Jesus Christ and start living forward. Time to get in the game, friends. Life is so much better with you in it. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

15 Responses to living life forward . . .

  1. Elaine, your words and these photos capture the pain of the wounded perfectly. So many are hurting and need that helping hand, need to hear the encouragement of one step at a time. Blessings in your efforts, my friend!

    • We’re all just traveling the road together, Cheryl, sowing seed and praying for the harvest. Thank you for taking the time to always encourage me through your posts (and pictures!).

  2. Powerful imagery here. And I’m so excited to get your book in the mail. I was just reading this Word in 1 Thess. 5 this morning, and I’m thinking about how much it applies to your ministry:

    “Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

    16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

    • I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed for God’s kindness to be my standard, LauraLee. Couldn’t the world use a little more kindness? While praying over church members last Sunday night, I remember praying these words: “God, we may not be able to force another soul into the kingdom, but we just might be able to love them in.”

      Thank you for walking the kingdom road with me; God is doing a mighty work in you and through you!

  3. wifeforthejourney:

    All of us live with the internal threat of feeling sidelined by life. We get overwhelmed by our past memories, our present realities or the knowns and unknowns of the future. We shut down. We break down. We sit down (like your pictures) and become rooted to the spot of our discouragement.
    When life’s troubles come calling, we are all tempted to believe that “no one understands” and we are all alone. Thank you for sticking by me in those uncomfortable times – if anyone can get me up off the curb and back to my faith-walk it’s you. Whether its through conversation or through your writing you are someone who has “been there” through the bad days and you are good company come rain or shine.

    I love you!
    ~ Billy

    • Beautifully written…. I am frequently on the curb of life myself wishing I could find God’s hand. I am glad to know there are people who know how I feel.

      • Hey, Joan! I may not perfectly know how you feel, but I’ve logged in ample time on the curb! Pain is a game-changer in our lives. It forces us to grapple with truth, with faith, with conviction. I don’t want my pain to define the rest of my life. Instead, I want it to serve me and my future… to shape me into a fuller version of self. God’s amazing presence and Spirit in me allows me to use pain’s crucible toward this end. Oh how I pray that you’ll be able to take a step forward, even a small one and make your pain work for you instead of against you! Thanks for being here. Shalom, sweet sister.

  4. Beautiful, soul-searching (for me) post Elaine! I, too, have sat on the curb so many times. You know my situation at the present and I appreciate so much your offer of your hand to walk this walk of life along side us other pilgrims! You are such an inspiration to me!

    God bless you our faithful Elaine!


  5. Just… amazing.

    “A game-changing sucker punch to the gut that has mocked your strength, rocked your faith…” Yeah.

    Thank you as always for your ministry.


  6. I think we have all been there….some longer than others. I’m so glad the Holy Spirit does not leave us there. Even when we plant ourselves firmly in that spot, He is always there urging us to move forward through the words of others, through the word of the Word, through music, through all sorts of things. So thankful for His urging to live forward.

    Love, love, love preacher Billy’s comment.

    • Elaine, this post hit home for me as I see my myself on that curb. I don’t want to be there. I want to get back in the race. The verse God brought to mind today: “I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me.”
      God allowed so much into your life just so you could articulate and bring comfort, encouragement and counsel to those who need that outreached hand to help them up.
      Thank you, dear sister.

  7. I am having prbeolms deciding on two houses. One has more curb appeal than the other. How important is that (your own opinion)Herein lies the problem. One house is located in a nice area. (It’s also higher priced).The other home is a nice area also. The immediate homes around it are all nice. Up the street is a public housing development. It looks to be kept up. In the back of my head the fact that it’s there bothers me.If I have company over the have to pass by this development. Am I being too critical?

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