As you can see, much of the pain that we experience comes through the events that take place in our lives and the thoughts that we have surrounding the event (we will deal with ungodly beliefs in the next section).
Every person deals with pain in different ways. That is why two people living in the same house can experience similar events and respond differently.
Let’s take a moment to look at some of the major ways in which people attempt to deal with pain and the resulting negative emotions.
Some seek to deal with pain by ignoring it. The thought is that if the negative feelings are ignored they will go away. If only you think good thoughts you won’t experience the bad thoughts.
Lana and her five-year-old daughter, Nancy, are sitting in the living room playing with dolls. Harold, Lana’s husband, walks in the room and trips on one of dolls.
“What are you trying to do, kill me? Harold shouts as he picks up the doll and slams it against the wall. He walks over to Nancy and slaps her face. Nancy’s head whips back and she starts to cry.
Harold turns. As he walks through the door, he shouts, “Don’t let it happen again or you’ll get worse.”
Lana grabs Nancy and holds her close. She whispers softly into her ear, “Let’s think good thoughts. Why don’t we think about going to the beach and building a sand castle. Wouldn’t that be fun?”
Lana seeks to distract her daughter with good thoughts. If we think good thoughts everything will go away. If we think about the beach, then the pain of the moment will leave. Ignoring pain will not make it go away.
Another classic way to deal with pain is to stuff it. This is similar to ignoring pain it but is more aggressive. It is not a tactic to deny pain, but a willful attempt to force the pain away though will power.
You know there is an issue that needs to be dealt with in your life. It is affecting you negatively and causing you grief. It is too painful to think about. Every time you allow the pain to surface nothing happens except you feel more miserable and more hopeless that things will never change.
Every time something brings the situation to the forefront, it is like a scab being ripped off a wound.The pain comes rushing in. You make the herculean effort to stuff it down. You are not ignoring it, you are are willfully pushing it away into the depth of your soul so you don’t have to feel the pain.
This takes an incredible amount of effort on your part. It consumes a lot of energy and can begin to affect you not only emotionally but physically. The more things you stuff, the bigger the time bomb waiting to explode. Stuffing pain will never make it go away.
Some people accept pain as a way of life. You grow up with a string of bad events where people have hurt you over and over again. You begin to think that this is your lot in life. If anything bad is going to happen it is going to happen to you.
You feel like you are walking around with a huge bullseye over your heart and everyone is taking a shot at hitting it. There must be an unseen sign on your back saying “Kick Me”, because everyone does. This must just be your lot in life.
You start looking at yourself and figure there must be some reason that all these bad things are happening to you. Something must be wrong with you. You must be a bad person. You must deserve what you get.
Once you start thinking this way you stop trying to change your situation. You don’t even try to do things or expect things to be different. You just shake your head and accept whatever comes your way. Accepting pain will not make it go away.
Some people rehearse their pain. You are consumed by one or more situations from the past. The situation is never far from you. It is almost like a video in your head that is set to replay over and over again.
You sit around and go over the event and how it has hurt you. You dwell on event and think of things that you should have said and should have done. You nurse your anger and pain because of what they did to you.
Whenever you come to a person, even a complete stranger, you tell them the story of how you were wronged and hurt. Your whole life centers around an event that happened to you sometime in the past.
I remember talking with one person. She was weeping and telling me about an event that took place in her life. After hearing the story and seeing the pain she was experiencing, I asked when the event took place. I was expecting sometime in the last few months. She told me it happened over thirty years ago.
She was reliving an event that had happened over thirty years ago and experiencing pain as if it was recent. Rehearsing pain will never make it go away
This is a common way people choose to deal with pain. You seek to medicate it so you don’t feel it. You try to cover up the pain, not by willfully putting it down by stuffing it, but by seeking comfort in other places.
There are so many ways you can medicate your pain. Here are some of the more popular:
- Alcohol and drugs - if you are bombed out of your mind the pain goes away for a while.
- Food - you eat for comfort
- Sex - you seek to fill the void and pain with pornography or one sexual relationship after another.
- Gambling - the adrenaline of the game
- Shopping - the pleasure of something new
- Work - keeping busy
- Fantasy - living in another life
- Entertainment - sports, video games, movies, etc.
There are a couple of problems with trying to medicate your pain. First, the relief is only temporary. It only helps for a few short minutes or hours.
Second. It causes more problems than it solves. Many of the things listed above are addictive and can lead you into bondage. Now you have the added weight and guilt associated with addition and a whole new set of pain to deal with. Medicating pain will not get rid of it.
Instead of dealing with the pain, you emulate it. You choose to walk in the same way as the person who caused you pain. You become the person who hurt you.
Not that you are the person who hurt you, you become just like them. You act the same way they acted. You hurt others the same way they hurt you. You choose, maybe not consciously, to be just like them. I know, because that is what I did.
I grew up in the home of a violent alcoholic. My dad was abusive verbally and physically. He was the nicest guy when sober, but scary when he drank.
I grew up filled with anger. I started to sniff paint, do drugs, and drink alcohol. I would get drunk and pick fights with people I did not even know. They didn’t do anything to me. I was just angry.
I always blamed my dad for my anger. I was angry because he was angry. I was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that he caused me to be the way I was.
Imagine my surprise. One day after an outburst of anger I started blaming my dad for my anger. I heard the Lord say to me, “You chose to emulate him.” I was absolutely shocked. Those words hit me hard and they were the beginning point of my deliverance from anger.
I knew that I could no longer blame my dad for who I was. I chose to be the way I was. Emulating the cause of pain will never get rid of it.
Bring It to Jesus
Do you use one of these six ways to try and deal with the pain you experience in life?
- Are you ignoring it and hoping everything will be alright?
- Are you stuffing it deep inside so you don’t have to feel it or deal with it?
- Are you accepting it and just believing that life always has to be this way for you?
- Are you constantly rehearsing it and experiencing the pain over and over and over again?
- Are you trying to medicate it and making you life more painful in the process?
- Are you emulating the person who hurt you and hurting others in the same way?
If so, it is time to acknowledge how you handle your pain, repent and turn from it, and turn to Jesus who heals the brokenhearted.
There is only one effective way for a believer to deal with pain and that is to bring it to Jesus. Jesus has a plan and the power to remove the pain and heal your broken heart. Next week we will learn how to bring our pain to Jesus and get rid of it.
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