Private Pain

It was months ago when I saw him in a local coffee shop.

He looked vaguely familiar, but I didn’t think I really knew him.

After about twenty minutes, he smiled and asked me if I was Hannah’s mom.

I smiled and said, “Yes! How do you know Hannah?”

He told me who he was and introduced me to his wife.

He had gone to school with Hannah, but I hadn’t seen him in years!  He is now married with two children.  I asked about his sister and he told me she had moved to California.

Just last Sunday night I saw his parents at a concert.

It had been years since I had talked to them as well.

After about 20 minutes, I walked over to their table, sat down, and told them about my reunion with their son in that coffee shop.

The conversation that followed, has had me thinking (and weepy) all week.

In just a few short minutes, she gave me the condensed version of what they had walked through with their children in the last few years.  For the most part, his head hung as he listened to the details once again being recited. Occasionally, he would add thoughts, or insert a lighter note but I still detected tears.  It took no detective to see the tears in my eyes, or in the eyes of his wife. The pain is still tangible.

I only went back to my own table because the concert was starting. I didn’t want to. I guess we were finished. We agreed that I would pray for their kids and they would pray for mine. As I returned to my table, I was in awe that they would share so personally with me. It had been so long since I had seen them, but in  just a few minutes we were united in heart.

I understand a little bit about private pain. When there are circumstances that need to remain private, for whatever reason, it is difficult to move forward. It is harder to heal. There are not people gathered close by in sympathy. There are fewer people praying because these pain-filled details never make it to the prayer chain. In a best case scenario, we struggle through together with trusted friends or family, relying on a faithful God to heal, restore and redeem. In worst case scenarios, marriages fall apart, addictions manifest and people walk away questioning how a loving God can allow such things to happen.

I have learned that pain and loss are inevitable parts of life.

I have also learned that it is an absolute privilege to be entrusted with someone’s secrets.

I know that we are more willing to be there for each other than we sometimes communicate. Sure, we risk not knowing what to say or do when pain is revealed or tears overflow, but we can still let others know we care. We don’t have to have the solution or know how to ‘fix’ it.

I encourage you today, tomorrow or this week to be aware of all the people that cross your path in the course of a day. Watch and listen with your heart. It can only take five minutes, but assuring someone that they are not alone in their fear or their pain, can make all the difference.

Abundance is… knowing we are not alone.

Desiring to Be an Encouragement to You,


About debbierivers

I love to share what I can whenever I can. My goal is to live simply and love lavishly. I enjoy inspiring others with my writing. I am married to Steve and am the mother to two beautiful daughters, Hannah and Jenna, and grandmother to Kinsley. My desire is to encourage and to bless others through my life and my words.
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4 Responses to Private Pain

  1. Diane Johnson says:

    Beautifully written sweet sister.
    XXOO Diney

  2. shelly davis says:

    I know about private pain, this post really touched me. It is hard to heal when you hold on to something so tight you can’t bear to tell anyone. I have been working on this but it is hard to be that vulnerable.

  3. kathy yoshimi says:

    Debbie, I just read your October article on Private Pain. It was so rich, tender and inspiring. I have left the mission field after 14 years and although intense spiritual warfare was our constant companion we had a small community of believers that we could share with. We laughingly called it ‘the greenhouse’ wondering if any of us could survive in the ‘real world’. It has been 10 months since we left and I must say if I were to be looked on as a ‘plant’ it would seem I have withered up and died. I know my roots go deep in the ‘UNBENDABLE LIGHT JESUS’, but oh how I miss my little band of brothers and sisters.

    • debbierivers says:

      Hi Kathy, Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with me. I too, am so thankful for those few close friends that I can share with. I am a very private person and so opening up has been a challenge for me. I will email you privately to continue the conversation. Thanks for reading my blog!

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