Re-examining Pain

subject(s): life, faith

Pain comes in many forms. It molds us, whether we want it to or not because it inspires to run towards certain things and people and run from others. It shapes our life view and personality for either better or worse, the direction depending on how we perceive and handle pain itself. It also keeps us from becoming our best, most authentic versions of ourselves.

For the purpose of this post I’ll focus on the following definition of pain: “acute mental or emotional distress or suffering” (miriam-webster.com).

I used to severely dislike this pain, so much so that I regularly avoided confrontations I should have had and social situations that seemed even slightly unpleasant. As a child, my father consistently told I didn’t have anything worthwhile to contribute to the world amongst many other damaging words a parent should never say to their child. To grow up believing I had the least important contribution in any room trained me to want to always please others. Adhering to this thought pattern was convenient because, if I pleased others, I could avoid pain. If I was not true to myself, I could avoid the pain of rejection.

Even though I grew up in a Christian church, I did not take it seriously until early adulthood because all I could see were the evil deeds men committed in the name of ‘God’. It was, in my eyes, utter hypocrisy and a waste of time. I decided to explore Christianity further after repeatedly hearing that God was a personal God…and was ‘supposedly’ (as I viewed it at that time) interested in the personal details of my life including the wounds I had not yet taken care of. I found solace scriptures such as Psalm 147:3 which states ‘He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds’.

Scriptures like these always comforted me because, from experience, I know I am incapable of healing my own wounds. Can I soothe them with temporary comforts? Sure, and I have many times. Can I bandage them? Of course, but the bandage always loses its glue and falls off.

I don’t know about you but I’ve found pain to be a good teacher. The pain of lack of accomplishment caused by relishing in self-pity has caused me depression. The pain of others’ perceived unexplained abandonment caused by a lack of self-worth has caused me to isolate myself. The pain of self-destruction caused by destructive self-injuring habits has caused me to die a little each day to the point of not recognizing myself anymore. I am thankful for the light I have found because this is no longer the truth.

It is insanity to continually expose oneself to things that could potentially emotionally wound us. These sources of pain could include a toxic relationship, self-imposed isolation, poor financial decisions, unguarded emotional investments, among others.

I encourage you today to take a second look at your relationship with pain. What things are causing you pain that perhaps you’ve stuffed down, ignored, or grown accustomed to? What past traumas haven’t you addressed? You might find it’s time you cleaned out your closet by embarking on the journey of self-reflection. Only you, after all, can embark on it. Only you can decide to find your answers, whatever those may be.

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