Monthly Archives: July 2014

Step by Step and Breath by Breath: Living with Emotional Pain

My family and I spent our annual vacation in Colorado this past week. My wife has gone to Colorado virtually every Summer since she was a child…and that tradition has continued in our marriage and with our children. We generally go with all of Emily’s family, all rent one big house, and just pack in together…all 20 of us (10 kids and 10 adults). It is a blast. We so LOVE Colorado in the Summer. It is such an incredibly beautiful and relaxing place.

This year’s trip, for several reasons, was different though. This was the first time we had been back to Colorado with Emily’s family without her mom, Cynthia, and without our son, Trey. Trey and Cynthia LOVED Colorado. We have so many memories with both of them in Colorado, so it was difficult to say the least. However, it was also good in some ways. Coming back to the place they loved so much keeps them close in all of our hearts. Even though they were not physically with us, in some ways, being in Colorado made us feel like they were with us. I saw Trey in the family hikes, sunrises and sunsets, kick ball games, fishing trip, fun on the mountain top, riding the chair lifts, shopping on Main St, walking in the stream, pictures we took, and on and on! So…in many ways, being in Colorado was such a good thing. Some healing always happens for us in the mountains.

While I was in Colorado though, I ran almost every day. I continue to train for the full marathon I’m running in Chicago in October. As you can imagine, running in Colorado is much different than running in Oklahoma. Running at a high altitude in the mountains makes running doubly hard, but I did it any way. The first day I ran, it was cold, windy, and the hills about got the best of me…but step by step, breath by breath…I just kept running. Each day, I continued running, and each day was hard.

However, on the last day I ran, I discovered something. Yes, the run was still incredibly difficult. In fact, most of my daily runs were uphill…steep, uphill inclines. But, on the last day, I found myself feeling stronger. I struggled up the hills, but not as bad. I still struggled to breath, but wasn’t gasping for air like I did the first day. My legs still burned, but felt stronger…and step by step, breath by breath, I completed the final run.

As I was running, something hit me though. It was something I’ve thought before, but in the midst of running, I was just vividly reminded of a powerful reality. What came over me as I struggled to run, and climb the hills, and breath, was that this is what it feels like to live with emotional pain. Living with emotional pain is exhausting, overwhelming at times, causes you to want to quit, makes you feel defeated, and on and on. BUT…just as I ran step by step and breath by breath and kept pressing on, so I must do the with my emotional pain. I just have to keeping living step by step and breath by breath…that’s the only way to make it.

When I would run in those mountains of Colorado, I wasn’t thinking about how far the house was, I was just thinking about my next step…my next breath. I wasn’t thinking “just one more mile,” or even one more 1/2 mile or 1/4 mile…I was thinking “one more step,” “one more breath”…”come on Jeremy, you can do this.” In those moments, I realized that this is how I’m going to have to approach the rest of my life as I learn to live without Trey. I can’t think about how long it will be until the Lord returns, or how long it will be until I see Trey again, or how I’m going to make it another 40 or 50 years…all I can think about is my next step and my next breath.

Just like my body “somewhat” adjusted to running in the mountains, so I pray my heart can “somewhat” adjust to living with emotional pain. Running in the mountains is never easy, not even for the most physically fit person, and living with emotional pain will never be easy, not even for the most spiritually fit person…but…one step and one breath at a time, I’m praying I get a little stronger each day. As I have thought so many times, “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”…and that only happens step by step and breath by breath!

As the old praise song says, “And step by step You’ll lead me, and I will follow You all of my days.” I’m asking the Lord Jesus Christ to give me what I need for my next step and my next breath. If you are living with emotional pain, don’t look too far ahead…just focus on your next step and your next breath! That’s really all you can do and truly the only way to live with emotional pain.

You pray for me and I’ll pray for you…”Heavenly Father, please give us strength for our next step and our next breath until You return or call us home.”

You need to read this post and share it!!!

I’m currently flying home from speaking at a youth camp in Florida. The theme of the camp was “Flood: How to handle the storms of life.” I preached through the book of Jonah all week, and enjoyed sharing my heart with these high school students. We talked a lot about how hard this life is, but how important it is to trust the Lord and glorify Him in all things…even hard things. As I wrapped the camp up this morning, little would I know what this day would hold.

As I was headed to the airport this morning, I got a call that one of our church members, a young mother of three, was unresponsive and was having CPR done on her. I know this family well. Two of this family’s boys are in the same grade as my two oldest sons. We love this family so much. I hung up the phone and prayed with my friend who was taking me to the airport. Once I got to the airport, it wasn’t long before I found out she had passed away in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. My heart broke…I wept…I prayed…I communicated with the staff…I was just overwhelmed.

As the day went on, another friend of ours we have been praying for, who is battling cancer, took a turn for the worst this morning, and I found out that she is on the brink of meeting Jesus. It could be any hour…it could even be as I’m writing this. She is also a young mother in her 30’s, just like my other friend who went to be with the Lord this morning. This lady is married and has a 4 year old daughter. Oh how my heart grieved when I read her husband’s post (***UPDATE: this dear friend just went to be with Jesus at 4pm today, July 5, 2014***).

I also just read another update on Caringbridge from another young mother of 7 children, who is battling terminal cancer at an alternative care facility in Arizona. She is also in her 30’s and barring a miracle, she looks to meet Jesus at some point in the near future as well. Her husband put out an encouraging post today, but her physical situation requires nothing short of a miracle.

Three mothers…one who has already gone to be with Jesus…one very close…and another fairly close as well. I was reminded of this verse…a verse Emily and I clung to so often in the hospital: “From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalms 61:2).” Time and time again, I have to remember that when life is overwhelming…I have to go to the “Rock” that is higher than I. I have to run to my Savior Jesus Christ…the only stability in my life…the only constant source of strength…the only true peace. I cannot imagine not having Jesus Christ to run to.

All three of these families are Christians…which is fantastic…but still hard is so many ways. I grieve for the husbands, the kids, family members, church families, friends, etc. But, I grieve with hope. The lady who went to be with Jesus this morning accepted Christ three years ago at our church as a 36 year old woman. As I wept today, I wept with gratitude in my heart to God for reaching down and saving her three years ago! I can’t imagine facing this day unsure of where she stood with the Lord…but three years ago she bowed her knee to Jesus, and because of that, she is in His presence forever and ever. She loved Trey and I smile thinking of she and Trey being together.

But I just want to say one thing…and I hope you will really listen to this one simple thing;

YOU NEED TO KNOW JESUS CHRIST!!! Oh dear friend come to Jesus…come and find forgiveness…come and find life! Listen to me, you are not guaranteed another breath, and what you do with Jesus in this life determines where you go in the next. Jesus is the only way to heaven…NO ONE gets to the Father except through Him! TODAY is the day of salvation and if you don’t know Christ, here is what you need to do RIGHT NOW:

-You need to admit you have sinned
-You need to repent…turn from your sin and trust in Jesus
-You need to believe Jesus Christ was the sinless Son of God, that He died on the Cross for your sin and that He was raised from the dead showing His power over all things
-You need to confess Jesus as Lord…simply said, Jesus needs to be the “boss of your life.”

If you are ready to accept Christ, pray this prayer right now and believe it with all your heart (these are not magic words…this needs to be a prayer of faith and the true confession of your heart…and don’t pray this prayer unless you’re ready to leave all for the One you are giving your life to. This is not a ‘get a out of hell prayer’…this is a give your entire life to Jesus prayer). So, if you’re ready, pray it in faith:

“Jesus, I know I’m a sinner. I’ve done wrong. And right now, I repent of my sin and place my trust in You. I believe You died on the Cross for me…for my sin, and I believe You were raised from the dead to give me true life. Jesus, I give You my life…be the boss of my life…be my Lord. I love You Jesus and mean this prayer with all my heart. Thank you for saving me, for dying for me, and for giving me life.”

If you prayed that prayer for the first time…please let me or someone know!!! According to the Word of God, you are a Christian now and have been born again. Get involved in a Bible believing/preaching church and tell a pastor of your decision.

Listen to me…life is so short and so fragile. Give your life to Jesus and live for eternal things!!!

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