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Parenting and Pain

Parenting and Pain

You do not need to have suffered the loss of a child to know parenting is painful. The pain we feel when our child is hurt, rejected, or fails is as real to us as to that child. Having children is like having a piece of your heart cut out and forever placed in another person. I have recently discovered the poems of Wendell Berry and he describes this feeling in his poem “The Way of Pain”, the pain that comes from love.

The Way of Pain
by Wendell Berry, 1980

For parents, the only way
is hard. We who give life
give pain. There is no help.
Yet we who give pain
give love; by pain we learn
the extremity of love.

I read of Abraham’s sacrifice
the Voice required of him,
so that he led to the altar
and the knife his only son.
The beloved life was spared
that time, but not the pain.
It was the pain that was required.

I read of Christ crucified,
the only begotten Son
sacrificed to flesh and time
and all our woe. He died
and rose, but who does not tremble
for his pain, his loneliness,
and the darkness of the sixth hour?
Unless we grieve like Mary
at His grave, giving Him up
as lost, no Easter morning comes.

And then I slept, and dreamed
the life of my only son
was required of me, and I
must bring him to the edge
of pain, not knowing why.
I woke, and yet that pain
was true. It brought his life
to the full in me. I bore him
suffering, with love like the sun,
too bright, unsparing, whole.

“by pain we learn, the extremity of love.” how very true that is, I love these words. It is impossible to love without suffering pain as well. The two go together. Berry’s words are comforting, when the path is all too painful, too raw. What more can be said.

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