I’ve been thinking about pain… most recently this morning when I ran 6K in the cold snow and ice. I wanted to share with you guys why I think pain is sometimes a good thing.
Now, to be clear, pain is sometimes a signal that something is being violated. You’ve all heard that the one of the major problems with leprosy is that when there is nerve destruction, then we can no longer feel when a part of our body is being damaged. So, with no feelings in our fingers they can be seriously harmed without us knowing it. I’ve experienced this myself in the extreme cold of Canada. For some stupid reason I was outside on a very cold day without my gloves cleaning off a car and then quickly grabbing an armload of wood to bring in for the wood stove. After I dropped the wood in the woodbox I noticed my fingers, now numb with cold, were cut and bleeding. I was rougher on them than I would’ve been if I had feeling in my fingers. So pain is an excellent indicator that something is wrong or something is being harmed. But I don’t want to talk about this kind of pain.
The kind of pain I want to talk about today is the kind that indicates progress is being made. Like when the feeling started returning to my frost-bitten fingers, it was excruciatingly painful. But it was a good sign that I hadn’t permanently killed the nerves and that my fingers would be restored to normalcy soon. Or when I was running this morning, it hurt. It hurt bad. But it was a sign that progress was being made in my health. My lung capacity was increasing, my muscles were stretching and building, my blood was flowing and toxins were leaving my body. I heard a comedian once say that he tried exercise once but he found that it hurt his muscles, caused his heart rate to escalate, his breathing to become irregular and he broke out in sweats. So he stopped. But this kind of pain is good. It means we are getting healthier.
I love the vulnerability and honesty of many of the members of TLS who are so willing to share their pain with the rest of us. Seriously, I take it as a complete honor to be invited into your lives. It shows an incredible amount of trust. And I don’t take it lightly. So I want to encourage those of you who are experiencing pain right now… myself included.
If it’s the first kind of pain… that something is being violated… then it is necessary to find ways to stop it. Not the pain but the cause. Unless of course something that should be violated is being violated… like something harmful that is being removed from our spiritual selves, our beliefs, our feelings or thoughts.
But if it’s the second kind of pain, perhaps you can take courage that you are actually getting healthier spiritually. You know, if we ignored our spiritual health like we sometimes ignore our physical health, then there might be a sense of reprieve from pain. But it would also be a sad indicator that we’re not attending to something that’s really important. When we experience existential, emotional, spiritual or intellectual pain, perhaps it’s good. Perhaps your heart is increasing its capacity to hold more love. Maybe your ability to think outside the box and more broadly is stretching. Perhaps the lifeblood of your whole self is flowing more freely throughout your entire self while it integrates. Perhaps unhealthy, damaging, limiting or toxic beliefs are leaving your mind and spirit. This is a good pain.
Sometimes the motto is true spiritually as well: no pain no gain.
*** Feel free to share this with a friend and invite them to The Lasting Supper!
Much love to you all,