Using Pain for a Bigger Purpose

I always knew my brother’s story was powerful and would need to be told. I felt a calling for me to do this but would think, “it’s his story, not mine.” I also wanted to respect him and never say anything he wouldn’t want me to share.

Now, my brother isn’t here to tell his story. I’m left wondering a million questions that the pain of losing someone, and losing someone to suicide brings. I know I still must tell his story.

The past few months I’ve felt angry, confused and lost as to what I’m supposed to be doing in life. I always felt stable in my career choice and the direction I wanted to take it…until now. Now, I’m not so sure if I’m supposed to focus on GI disorders, celiac disease and food allergies. Now, I’m thinking I’m supposed to see how nutrition and diet impacts mental health. This was never talked about during my undergrad experience and something I don’t have a lot of background in. But I keep feeling tugged in that direction.

I was reading Lauren Casper’s book Loving Well in a Broken World when it came to chapter 10, The Next Right Thing. There’s a part in the book where Lauren talks about her friend Rachel who’s brother had been addicted to drugs and was in and out of jail. He ended up passing away and “Rachel describes her shock and grief the night her brother died as one long wail” (pg 125). After several years Rachel returned to work as a nurse, but her heart kept being tugged to work at the local county jail. Rachel began to recognize her brother in the inmates and treated them like the people she knew they were inside. Lauren then goes to say, “She (Rachel) could have chosen to work in a hospital or a nursing home, settings that wouldn’t have been a continual reminder of the brother she lost far too soon. Instead, Rachel chose to turn toward her pain, allowing to to shape and soften her heart. Rachel allowed her heartbreak to cultivate empathy and then extended it to those who don’t often receive empathy. Some days, she cries on the way from work, but most days she leaves full of the joy that comes from following where empathy leads” (pg 126).

When I read this it hit me hard. I can choose to tell God “no, this is too hard. I’m not ready for this now. I can’t.” Or, I can tell Him I’m open to His plan for my purpose. Honestly, I’m still working on this- it feels too soon.

A few months ago I was job searching and saw an opening for a mental health clinical dietitian at the local Veterans Affairs hospital in St. Louis. When I saw this I thought, “man this sounds like the perfect job if it were a few years down the road.” I didn’t even know a job like this existed. The thought of it sounds terrifying, and too emotionally overwhelming, but it also sounds incredible- and I know I would see my brother in those patients.

All this time I’ve been contemplating this. I read about David & Goliath in 1 Samuel one day last week. I hadn’t finished this book or chose to read it in probably years. Wednesday I decided to start a Bible study I’m beginning with a friend, Trustworthy by Lysa Terkeurst. It goes over 1 & 2 Kings but beings in 1 Samuel. Well on Wednesday the lesson was over David & Goliath. God’s timing was amazing that I would read the same passage twice within less than a week of each other after not reading 1 Samuel for years.

I was also chatting with a friend about nutrition & mental health Monday and she mentioned Jordan Lee Dooley’s book and how she talks about being multi-passionate. I read the book in May and thought it may be good to pick it up again. Well on Wednesday Jordan posted on her Instagram stories that her new podcast episode is about nutrition and how diet affects your mental health… Yep, I was pretty speechless. Everything I had been thinking on and just talking about was communicated in ways I wouldn’t have thought of- only God can do this!

I’m still thinking on what God is telling me about the passage of David & Goliath but I think it’s that nothing is too much for Him. There is no obstacle too big. I can turn towards my pain, allowing it to shape and soften my heart and bring glory to God, or I can run in fear. David was not fearful when he fought Goliath.

Lord, help me to be fearless.