The Comfort Cycle

From an editorial standpoint, overusing words is an obvious no-no. There are times when repetition works well for dramatic effect, of course, but it’s usually better to eliminate words or phrases that appear more than once or twice in a paragraph.

That said, I’m glad the Apostle Paul wasn’t fixated on editing rules when he wrote the first chapter of 2 Corinthians. In the space of six sentences, he used some variation of the word comfort no less than nine times, including four mentions in these familiar verses:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

Theologians may have more sophisticated terminology for describing this process, but I like to call it the comfort cycle. And it’s pretty efficient, if you ask me. God comforts us in our troubles so we can later comfort other people with same kind of comfort that He first bestowed on us.

I’m so thankful for people I’ve known during different seasons of my life who came alongside me with the variety of encouragement that can only come from someone who has “been there.” Through infertility, job transitions, hormonal upheaval, parenting an extremely energetic preschooler, loved ones’ health problems and more, I don’t know how I would have coped without the prayers and support of these empathetic friends.

Granted, not everyone jumps at the chance to do this. Understandably, some people prefer to protect themselves from the emotional stress that can flow from recalling personal struggles and heartaches. The vulnerability that accompanies sharing certain experiences can be scary. Sometimes the wounds are too deep or the hurt too fresh.

But when one person is willing to relive sadness or pain because she believes it might comfort another person, it’s a beautiful thing indeed.

When my girls were younger, I remember hearing older moms say, “You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to those days.” Although this comment isn’t particularly helpful, I get it. Parenting toddlers (not to mention teenagers) can be exhausting in every possible way, and for some, it’s a relief to watch those years grow dim in the rearview mirror.

But I’ve also noticed something about my current stage of life that intrigues me. I have a few friends whose elderly parents suffered from Alzheimer’s disease before they died, and not once have any of these friends ever expressed any sort of gratefulness about being done with this difficult season.

The truth is, there’s something incredibly poignant about watching a parent near the end of his or her life in such a heartrending way. It’s hard and lonely and sad, but—as is the case with many life-changing trials—it’s often difficult to articulate any of that to someone who hasn’t been through it personally.

So these dear ones gently offer encouragement, empathy and practical advice—over the phone, in the church sanctuary, across the table at the coffee shop, even through blog comments—because they know what it’s like. They would probably give anything to be able to spend just a few more moments with their own loved ones, but because that’s not possible, they are willing to draw from their experiences to help me.

I think it’s true what Rick Warren says, that “God never wastes a hurt.” And when we reach out to hurting people who are right now where we once were, we get to participate in His divine recycling process.

And the comfort cycle continues.

Lois

When one person is willing to relive sadness or pain because she believes it might comfort another person, it’s a beautiful thing indeed. Click To Tweet

P.S. I’m linking up this week with Purposeful Faith, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community, Faith on Fire, Faith ‘n Friends and Grace & Truth.



Love prays

In waiting rooms and living rooms, bedrooms and examination rooms. In the garden, the shower, the pickup line, the checkout line.

Love prays.

Through windshield time, nap time, crunch time, white-knuckle time.

Love prays.

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One Way to Pray When the Solution Isn’t Obvious

It’s a story that lives on in Flowers family lore.

Molly was little—still young enough to sleep in a crib and take afternoon naps.

Our sweet girl usually woke up from her siestas quietly. She’s always been resourceful and imaginative, so there’s really no telling what all she did when we thought she was sleeping. Knowing her like we do now, it’s safe to assume she spent a significant amount of time playing around in her bed before she ever let us know she wanted to get up.

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Words of Hope for Your Weary Soul

It was bound to happen sooner or later. My string of sickness-free years had to come to a close eventually. But who knew it would end with three different bugs in the space of a single month?

Not me, that’s for sure.

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Three Important Prayers for Your Children

A few months ago, Molly asked Randy to make some color copies she needed for a language arts project.

My girl doesn’t talk much about her schoolwork, and this was the first we had heard about the assignment. It turns out that she and her classmates were researching social issues, and she had very innocently selected a topic that we felt she should learn about at home (rather than by Googling it herself at school).

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My One Word for 2018

I’m a writer and editor by trade, so it probably doesn’t come as a big surprise that I love words.

I get excited when I’m writing and a word that has been eluding me pops into my head, or when I’m revising something and the perfect replacement phrase just flows off my fingertips. But while I put a lot of thought into the words I use in paragraphs and sentences, when it comes to choosing a word for each new year, my approach is much more—um—arbitrary.

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