Walking through Pain
My friend Zach sent me a fun quote from “The Ref.” I think it was a series with Dennis Leary, so …
“Welcome to the real world where most of the time things don’t go your fucking way.” The Ref
Reminds me of another conversation I was having about pain. Physical pain. Emotional pain. What is it about humans that we (or some of us?) seem to need pain to grow? You’ve probably all heard stories about various illnesses that have caused someone to lose his pain signals. You know, where one gets physically hurt but can’t feel it, so then gets really hurt. It’s a great example of pain not being a “good” thing, but being a signal to take some action. I’d say a lot of us use the pain signal as a sign to protect, or to run, or to hide or to develop unhealthy coping methods. Oops.
But pain doesn’t need to be chased away at all times, it can be a great teacher. I started this blog last year bitching about the common expression some people use; “everything happens for a reason.” I still think the idea rots. You may say, well Jill, you just said pain can be good so…Nope, I said it can teach us something. We can make something good come from it, or God can. Pain just is. Like…gravity. It’s there when you are 2 years old trying to walk and you keep falling over. It’s there when you are 55 and faceplant from too much liquor. (Not that I would know anything about that, I’m only 48.)
I wonder sometimes if pain is simply a signal to accept the reality of life. To learn to just sit and be sad, or lonely, or rejected, or scared, or hurt, or bored, or whatever. Just feel it and, eventually, release it.
Christians get a bad rap sometimes as weaklings who can’t function without some place to take their pain. You know what? I’m good with that. I tried to explain to a wonderful, atheist friend, why some of us choose the path of faith. I’ll own up to it, it is pain. It is need. It is seeing the world in all its ugliness and needing a larger hope. Some sects of Christianity get all freaky about not having pain or sickness or depression, to name a few. They may say, “That isn’t God’s will.” Lawd, I do not want to start a discussion on that hairy topic. But if someone wants to go there with me, I just remind them of Paul’s Christian journey. Slammed in prison, flogged, lashed, beaten with rods, pelted with stones, shipwrecked, hungry, thirsty, tired, cold, naked and exposed. And Jesus. Not cute baby Jesus in a manger. Jesus of “The Passion.” Whipped, mocked, beaten, tortured and crucified to death. Add to those the bad end of most of the disciples. I believe it was five crucifixions, two beheadings, and two stabbings. I’m not precisely sure, but you get the point. None of these guys were deserving of pain, so to speak. They weren’t breaking laws or killing people. They were living their lives as best as they knew how, trying to do the most good they could with the time they had. Sounds like a great way to live. But no lifestyle guarantees a damn thing, in the physical realm. I have a suspicion that when they passed, they knew they had lived “well.” I bet they slept soundly at night knowing they had experienced joy on the journey and purposeful living. But pain free, nuh-uh.
Pain. A part of life. I’m no damn good at dealing with it either, but here’s hoping I learn as I go.