Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Monday, August 2, 2010

When We Just Try To Stop the Pain

Some of you remember the excruciating pain of childbirth. I sure do. My wife had a lot of it. I'm a wimp and if birthing the children were up to me . . . well . . . you see my point. Pain isn't fun.  And there are appropriate ways and times to try to reduce or get rid of it. And if you have a bad headache or backache there's nothing wrong or un-Christian about taking or doing something to soothe the hurt.

However, when it comes to emotional pain we can easily get into trouble if we're not wise. It's painful to feel like we're not measuring up as a parent or spouse. It hurts to be out of work and become burdened with the sense that we're not providing.  Our heart can ache while we wonder if our marriage will ever be what we thought it would be.

But what do a lot of us do when the pain becomes too much?  We try to dull it rather than deal with the source. Some people start to drink more. Others work harder. Many who are married get drawn into an affair because that relationship feels better than the one at home.  A few even get more religious or spiritual for all the wrong reasons. We wrongly think that phony Christianity can also help us feel better. And it might - for awhile.

I have a theorem that I'm pretty sure is true: When life is out of control in one area, we often try to over-control another.  Control can also serve as a way to feel a little better about life even if it's only for a time. We lost our job so we try to control more things at home. Our kids are a mess so we become more controlling at church or work. We usually don't realize we do it but misguided control can happen under the radar much of the time.

So when we're hurting what should we do?  First, learn to accept that pain is part of life and doesn't mean that we're a failure. Author Tim Hansel wisely wrote . . .  Pain is inevitable, misery is optional.  He was so right. We can accept our pain and deal with it appropriately or we can live in misery trying to stop the hurt for little periods of time but never winning.

Second, face the source of your pain. If you lost your job and are struggling financially, then be sad about your loss but take healthy appropriate steps to keep going, find work and meet your needs the best you can.  If you marriage is hurting go gets some help and admit your part of the problem.  Learn to communicate and love better but don't think that finding someone else is the answer.  It isn't.

Third, let pain teach you more about trusting God.  God never promised that He would remove all our pain. Sometimes He does but other times He does not.  The Book of John in the New Testament says that we can ask and it will be given to us if it brings us joy, bears fruit in us and gives God the most glory.  But sometimes we will get more ultimate joy, see more fruit in our lives and give God more praise by going through something not around it.

Fourth, admit the things you've been doing to inappropriately deal with your pain and stop them now.  Control things less, quit an unhealthy relationship or commit to giving up an addictive behavior.

There really is a better way even when you're hurting.  Keep climbing.  The view from the top is worth it!
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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