Pain – A Gift in Disguise
It’s natural to think that all pain is a bad thing. But is it really? I would propose that it depends on the way you look at it, because pain can actually be a “gift in disguise.”
Let’s be real, pain in any form is uncomfortable to say the least, both physically and emotionally. Because it’s uncomfortable, we as humans have become really good at avoiding it. We distract ourselves, we use stimulants to make ourselves feel good, we stuff it, pretend like it’s not there and carry on with our day. But what if – instead of avoiding it – we used it and channeled it into a gift for ourselves that would ultimately benefit us?
Take physical pain for example – if your hand touched an open flame, you would immediately feel a shooting pain. Why? To protect you. It’s letting you know, “Hey, if you don’t move your hand now, you’re gonna damage it!” In other words, something isn’t right! In this scenario, pain is actually serving you and aiding in your survival. You definitely wouldn’t avoid this kind of pain – in fact you would instinctively pull back your hand to make it stop.
I would challenge you to think of emotional pain in the same way – as something that is serving and protecting you. Similarly to physical pain, emotional pain is letting you know that something is “off”, that something isn’t right and needs to be adjusted.
Let’s take loneliness for an example. If you’ve been struggling with feelings of loneliness for awhile, one of the easiest things to do is turn to TV or go on social media. It’s a convenient distraction that gives you immediate temporary relief. But instead, if you chose to face the uncomfortable fact that you’ve been feeling really lonely, you’re way more likely to begin discovering the real issues behind the loneliness, along with solutions on how to step out of it. What do I mean by facing it? I mean by being real with yourself and God and acknowledging that you’re going through a painful issue; I mean asking yourself the tough questions, questions like – Why am I feeling this loneliness? When did I start to notice feeling this way? God, is there anything I’m doing that’s contributing to this issue in my life?
In asking God and yourself these types of questions, maybe you’d discover that you weren’t experiencing the level of connection in your relationships that you’d like, or maybe you’d find that you’re afraid to show people your genuine self so you have a tendency to isolate, or maybe you’d realize that you’ve felt really disconnected from God lately. Whatever the case, inviting God in on your process of choosing to face the real issues underneath your feelings of loneliness would help you discover the adjustments that you would need to make to begin resolving the issue.
But that’s just one example among many. There are many types of emotional pain – boredom, discouragement, hopelessness, disappointment, fear, depression, feelings of shame… the feelings may be unique, but the principles behind the process of beginning to heal from them are the same – acknowledging it, inviting God into it, and asking yourself the tough questions to help build your self-awareness around the issue. These steps aren’t comprehensive by any means, as all situations are different, but they are a great place to start.
For some, it may feel foreign to invite God into your pain for fear that He’s displeased with the fact that you’re struggling. Well, I want to let you know – God is not afraid of your pain and messiness. God already sees, knows and loves all of who you are, and He still chooses you. In fact, He cares for you so much that He wants you to face the pain in your life so that you can truly move beyond it towards the greater things He has for you. When we choose not to, He’s saddened to see our lives, destinies, and potential wasted because we’ve been too afraid to face difficulties, living in a chronic state of unhealthy avoidance and distraction.
Whatever pain you’re going through in your life today, I challenge you to really face it. Be honest with yourself and admit what you’re feeling, ask yourself the tough questions, give yourself grace to go on the process of fixing it, and invite God and those you’re closest to in on your process. Allow yourself to grieve your pain, and then take the necessary steps to begin healing and correcting any ways you may be contributing to it in your life. And when you experience pain at other times in your life, choose to see it as a “gift in disguise”, a gift that’s letting you know that something needs to be corrected in order for you to move towards the better quality of life that you’re wanting.
by Katie Byrne