By Laurie Krieg

What are you avoiding, Laurie? That still small voice whispered to me as I pulled the truck into the parking lot before a meeting.

All day I had been filling my mind with podcasts, social media, work, kids… general busyness. I wasn’t intentionally doing it, but I definitely was avoiding.

“I don’t know…” I said back to God.

I did know. When I stopped and thought about it, I did. However, most of us living this 2021 life are not only carrying one but twenty things. Twenty people. Twenty burdens. I was just avoiding the twenty heavy things in my heart.

Dear one? Invite me in. Talk to me about it.

As I sat in the truck, keys in my hand, I started to think about two of them. Two people I am walking alongside. Two people I can’t fix, can’t control, can’t repair. I can only pray and care. Pray, care, and then avoid the emotional pain as much as possible. 

It’s easier, somehow. Or at least it feels better. It allows me the space to physically care for my friends but not feel the agony of it all.

I let my mind sit in the suffering for a moment. I sat in the ache I often avoid. Wait for it… Anger. I felt so much anger. “I’m so mad, God!” I prayed. “I am so angry that this world is broken and breaks on us!”

What is under the anger? I’ve got enough years under my belt and therapy in my mind to know that anger is often a mask emotion for fear or sadness. It’s easier to grip than the murky waters of fear or sorrow.  What are you sad or afraid of?

There it is. Oh, I wasn’t just avoiding the anger, I was avoiding the pain. The fear. 

I paused this conversation with God until I could journal later with my Bible in my lap opened to 2 Corinthians 1. It was a part of my Bible reading plan for the day. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” I’ve read this dozens of times, but that night certain words stood out to me as if they were radioactive.

“[God] comforts us in all our troubles.” What precedes my comforting of others? God’s comfort for me. 

But I hadn’t been opening up my heart to Him. Not really. Not my real, fearful, sad heart about this pain. I had been covering my sad and scared heart with a Band Aid of anger and then avoided the whole hairy mess to keep moving on with life.

I can’t comfort others in their pain if I am not experiencing God’s comfort in mine.

“But that hurts, God!” I prayed. “To experience your comfort takes cracking my heart open to you, and that hurts. I don’t want to feel how I really feel about these situations. It’s too much…” 

How did I do it? How do I do it? I pictured the cross. Of course: Jesus not only cracked open his heart for us, He cracked open his body until He died and went to hell and back for us.

2 Corinthians 1 continues, “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” When we suffer, we share both in Jesus’ sufferings and His comfort. There is a strange, supernatural empathy we receive through Christ when we suffer with Him. 

But there is no suffering with if we are avoiding feeling our pain and omitting inviting Him into it.

“Help, Jesus.” I prayed. “I so often avoid. Please, help me to sit in the pain, to experience your comfort, and then to keep my heart open so I can be a real, Spirit-empowered, comforting presence to others.”

This is fresh, friends. This is real life. But this feeling-the-pain-and-suffering-with Jesus is a critical tool at least I need to move forward.

You too?

Laurie Krieg and her husband, Matt, are Marriage Initiative Fellows with Celebrate Kids/Ignite the Family. Laurie is also a speaker, author, and Hole in My Heart Podcast host who speaks and trains extensively on the gospel, sexuality, and marriage most often alongside her licensed-therapist husband, Matt. Laurie also serves on the Board of The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender, and is earning a master’s degree from Wheaton Graduate School in Evangelism and Leadership. Matt and Laurie recently published their first book, An Impossible Marriage, and the pair live in Grand Rapids, Michigan with their three kids and puppy, Bingo. To find out more about Laurie and Matt, visit