When I heard my friend, Marcia, make this statement, it grabbed my attention: “Choose the pain that heals.” Pain is inevitable; how we respond to it is our choice. We need discernment in making such an important decision. Which pain do I let go of or hold onto and learn from?
Pain comes in many forms--physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. In focusing on emotional pain, these questions may be helpful: What do you do with nasty hurt in your heart that feels like physical pain? Deny it? Medicate it? Or acknowledge it and explore meaningful conclusions?
Emotional pain sometimes feels like the hardest. Oftentimes, many strings are attached to our pain--strings of feeling unworthy, incapable, inadequate, unwanted, rejected and the list goes on. Left unattended, emotional pain cripples and paralyzes our ability to function. We could find ourselves balled up in a fetal position or doubled over with pain in our gut.
So you may ask, “Just what is involved in acknowledging my pain and seeking help? First, look at the pain and call it what it is, pain. Sometimes, because we want to save face, we won’t acknowledge what’s going on deep within our souls. This can be dangerous and can lead to destructive behavior toward ourselves or others.
Second, if possible, acknowledge the source or root of your pain. Is it something—or someone? Third, deal with the source. This starts with allowing ourselves to come face to face with that root. Acknowledging the source may be the hardest. We must accept the reality that someone or something we cherish or are attached to is hurting us. You may wonder, “How did I get here?”
Fourth, move forward in taking better care of your heart. I recently talked with a friend who tends to let others take advantage of her. I’ve been there and know what that feels like. I told her that I’d finally learned how to guard my heart and my joy.
Two Scriptures that have been with me for a long time are Proverbs 4:23 and Nehemiah 8:10. These talk about guarding our hearts and the power of joy! I wonder if “guarding" our hearts looks something like “guarding” our joy? In guarding our hearts and joy, we’re better positioned to choose the pain that heals. We’re able to see more clearly and make healthier decisions.
The Holy Spirit is able to bring life out of pain. He enables us to make choices that give life to our hearts. He also gives wisdom about who or what should be an integral part of our lives. Thank God that we’re able to draw upon him to experience vibrant life in Christ!
Pay attention to who and what contributes to your joy. It’s okay to be selective. Remember, pain is inevitable and the response is our choice. We can choose wisely through the power of the Holy Spirit!
This post is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared on the Key Ministry blog.
Skip McDonald, BSN, ThB, RN, is a senior campus staff member for NCF in Georgia. She has written Bible studies and discipleship curriculum. Her latest Bible study, God’s Word and Mental Health, is now available on Amazon.