ducklings-at-curb

In the animated film “Zootopia”, the main character Judy Hopps returns to her apartment after a highly disappointing day. She flips quickly through her radio and just so happens to hear the following songs:

“I, Loser” by Winston Marshall
“Can’t Do Nuthin Right” by Madisen Ward
“All By Myself” by Eric Carmen
“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.

My kids and I laugh every time we watch that scene. Those aren’t exactly the songs you want to hear after a long day. Nothing like being kicked while you’re down.

But the truth is: We all feel like losers at some point. At times we feel like we can’t do anything right. Sometimes we feel alone. And yes, life can really hurt.

Whether it was self inflicted or someone did or said something to us, our pain comes in all different shapes and sizes. But there’s one common denominator: it just plain sucks.

I got called “weird” when I was kid and was bullied on the playground.
I also had a bad stuttering problem and was mocked by my classmates.
I had 4 knee surgeries that knocked me out of the sports I loved.
I got fired from my high school job.
My beloved Grandma slowly deteriorated and died after a long bout with MS.
My wife and I experienced the heartbreak of losing several unborn babies.

Disappointment. Discouragement. Despair. Depression. Darkness.

Now, I don’t pretend to be an expert on what to do when life hurts. There’s certainly no formula. It’s messy. And every situation is different.

The truth is, there’s no certain way we’re “supposed” to feel. Whatever we’re feeling, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel shock, anger, denial, or whatever we may feel. And if we don’t feel anything at all, that’s okay too. It’s okay to have no answers and no explanations. Because sometimes all the reasoning and comforting words in the world just don’t help at all.

But I’ve learned 3 basic truths that I think apply well when we hurt:

#1. You need to let it out.
I don’t know how long ago, or if it happened just the other day, but I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for your hurt.

But have you allowed yourself to feel the full force of your pain?
Cry. Mourn. Weep. Yell. Talk. Write it down. Ask “Why?” Or even throw something.

Keeping your emotions and feelings bottled up or swept under the rug is simply unhealthy. Rather, when you give voice to your hurts, it’s actually a sign of strength not weakness.

You can’t avoid your responses to things and think they’ll go away. If you stuff it, then it’s in there somewhere, and it will come out. Maybe you have some pain from a long time ago and you never properly grieved.

When Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus had died, Scriptures say “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled…Jesus wept” (John 11:33, 35).

If the Jesus needed to let it out, then we do too.

#2. You are not alone.
You know, it’s funny. I consider myself social and extraverted. But when “hurt” happens I tend to retreat away from people, rather than run to people. Yes, “alone” time is important, but we need to let others “in.”

Chances are, others you know have been there too. And when you choose to let it out, you choose to let others in. The Bible says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

Others want to share your burden. Others want to cry with you and hug you and make you dinner. God wants to use others to encourage you, strengthen you, and let you know you’re not alone in your struggle.

#3. You will get through it.
Scriptures say, “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up” (Psalm 71:20).

The first Christians spoke about a day in the future when God would restore everything – you, me, everything in heaven and on earth. I find great hope in that.

No more pain. No more dark cloud. No more sleepless nights.

Do you trust that God will someday restore everything? Do you believe that includes being reunited with the people you love?

Though you mourn heavily today and ache with so much pain, God won’t leave you there. After weeks and maybe months of hurt, God will restore your heart and fill you with a peace that surpasses all understanding. And you will once again feel joy and laugh and smile.

So after “one of those days”, don’t come home like Judy Hopps and believe every song you hear on the radio.

You’re not a loser.
You’re not all by yourself.
You do a lot of things right.

Take comfort knowing everybody hurts, and that Jesus hurts with you. And He wants to remind you to let it out, that you’re not alone, and that you’ll get through it.

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