Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pain and Greatness

This past Monday night, I couldn't sleep. Aside from having drank a large cup of espresso (don't do it), something had happened that was just making me feel so anxious and worried, and I had spent the whole evening trying to cover up that painful feeling of uncertainty. 

It wasn't even a big or important thing that happened. It was just that someone had not said something I expected them to, and it made me wonder if I'd done something wrong. But my heart is very sensitive, and that one little thing brought on all the things that had been bothering me for the past few weeks. 

When it rains, it pours. 

So I was lying in bed, trying to think of creative ways to numb the ache in my heart. And that was when God invited me not to run from my suffering, but to 'enter into it'. 

This is something I've been trying to wrap my head around ever since I wrote a very long, in depth paper on redemptive suffering. I started really wondering about pain, and how our pain can lead to healing. 

But, when we ARE in pain, the world tells us that the answer is to numb the pain, cover the pain up, make the pain GO AWAY. I believe that no one sets out to suffer. Sometimes people use physical pain to escape the deeper emotional and spiritual pain, but no one WANTS to suffer. That's why we have Tylenol and Advil, right? 

In contrast to what the world tells us, God tells us that we must not run from pain. We must truly experience pain by entering into it. We need to go into it and FEEL it, and see where its coming from. 

Pain, like fear, never goes away until you treat the cause of it. 

So I entered in. I let myself ask, "Why is this bothering me? Why would it be so painful if this thing I'm afraid of happened? Why am I trying to cover it up? And what about all these other things?"

I let myself cry, and I admitted to God, "I need You. I don't know how to make this go away. I don't know how to feel better. I don't know how to fix all these wounds and broken parts in me,"

I don't like pain. Especially emotional and spiritual pain. I avoid pain in ALL its ugly forms wherever I can. Most of all, I avoid things that scare me, because fear is more painful than anything else. 

The world tells me that's exactly what I should do. I should never just let pain happen. I should try and avoid it, and when it comes, I should cover it up right away. 

But, from now on, I am going to make every effort not to run from pain. Monday night was rough. I didn't want to enter into the labrinth of painful fears and wounds in my heart. It hurt, and I wanted to run away from it. 

However, after I'd just sat with the pain for a little while, I saw that it was OKAY to suffer. In fact, it was good to suffer in that particular moment. By not running away from it, by facing it, I was able to accept it. That acceptance made it much easier to bear, and I had a sense that everything would be alright. 

I remembered that pain goes away. If we face it, it has an end. 

Suffering is hard. It's painful. It's difficult to reconcile with what we believe about God's love for us. It's embarrassing to be vulnerable in our pain to others. It's uncomfortable. 

But Christ Himself suffered in the worst way in all of human history, so I will not run away from suffering anymore. I will unite my suffering with His. 

Because we were made for greatness, not comfort. 

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