Posts Tagged ‘avoidance

11
May
21

Seeking Soulpain Relief

“The reason women have the babies instead of men…” my wife explained, immediately following the birth of our second child, “… is because men couldn’t handle the pain.”

Me… earlier today.

After a short time of harrumphing, sputtering, and expressing considerable masculine indignation, I was forced to pause and process…

… and then admit she was totally right. 

I will confess right up front; I am a complete wimp when it comes to pain. Always have been and likely always will be.

This despite the fact that I grew up in the, “Rub some dirt on it and get back in there” era. 

For me, every experience of pain is like it is happening for the first time EVER. It shocks me. It surprises me. It insults me. It takes my breath away. It deftly penetrates beneath my hard, protective shell and short-circuits my wiring, leaving me whimpering and grimacing like a dewy fawn.

And yes, I know pain is necessary. “Pain is a teacher,” they say. Pain – whether physical, emotional, or spiritual – serves to alert us to situations that demand immediate, therapeutic attention.

Pain also reminds us – in case we forget – about the inescapability of our mortality.

Yes, yes. Sure. I’ve heard all of that and know it is all 100% true.

But still… why does pain have to be so damned… PAINFUL?! So INTRUSIVE?! So RUDE and OBNOXIOUS?!

None of us is immune from pain! It attacks young and old, rich and poor, man and woman, smart and dumb all alike. And because pain is so universal, we have developed an impressive arsenal of tools for dealing with its periodic visits. 

Sometimes we employ the denial tool I mentioned earlier. If that one fails (which it almost always does), we might reach for one of a variety of numbing agents… tools designed to blunt the signals sent to our brain from the site of the primary assault. 

Numbing works for a while but must always be repeated… often with stronger and stronger doses of the number. [NOTE: the “b” there in the word “number” is silent.] Sadly, before people find lasting relief from their pain, they often find life-destroying addiction to those numbing agents.

Finally, when the pain is severe or chronic or long-lasting enough, we decide that the only thing left to do is go to the Source and ask, “Where and why did this pain start in the first place?”

For about the past week I have been dealing with excruciating lower back pain… the kind that makes me walk around the house like a cartoon of a little old man. Today, finally, I decided (with much loving encouragement from Joan) that it was time to try and get to the root of the issue… to stop denying, numbing, and avoiding.

Sadly, before I did, the pain had to get really, really bad.

Isn’t that what happens sometimes in our souls, too? 

Don’t we each have those moments in life that bring us genuine soulpain? And don’t we start out coping with that pain by denying it even exists? And then, when we discover that denial really IS just a river in Egypt instead of an effective coping strategy, don’t we regularly move on to trying to NUMB the pain? 

So, my question is; how bad does the pain have to get? How much agony do we have to endure? How deep does our addiction to numbing agents have to go before we decide it is time to seek out the SOURCE?

For a lot of folks, the source of that soulpain is the lack of a good, solid answer to the question of PURPOSE; Who am I? Why am I here? What is my life supposed to be about? What is LIFE about?

The Teacher, writing in the book of Ecclesiastes, is not exactly the bluebird of happiness on this topic. For those who are tempted to find meaning in their work he (or she) writes, “What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun?  For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23, NRSV).

Jesus, on the other hand, offers an alternative. In the 14th chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus tells us that he is, “… the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6, NRSV). And on 15 separate later occasions in the New Testament, he then commands his followers to “LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”

It seems to me that if you were looking for a good, reliable “soulpain reliever,” those words might be about as close to the Source as you could get. 

Abundant blessings;




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