Pain and Its Message

7 08 2017

We are in crisis here in the land of the free.  I’ve not seen such an attachment to opioids—read heroin and its cousins—since the Seventies.  People are overdosing at an alarming rate.  It’s so bad a mentor told me her septuagenarian mom, dealing with severe knee pain, would score heroin if she knew how.

How does a great nation get to a place like this?

There are lots of reasons and there are no silver bullet answers to the crisis.  Easy access to narcotics is one.  Flip and careless scriptwriting habits of some health care professionals are another.

But here’s one.  We run from pain.  And to be clear, the pain of injuries, say a slipped disk or severe arthritis, are not to be taken lightly.  We do what we can to eliminate unbearable pain.  I know folks who’ve been dealing with these and similar afflictions for many years.  But often we are running from dealing with the difficult realities of life here on this planet.

A mentor of mine, a licensed family therapist, has told me more than once, “I believe pain is trying to tell us something and numbing the pain keeps us from hearing its message.”

The result: Addictions, overdoses, and premature deaths.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “The things that hurt, instruct.”

What to do?

I for one tend to suck at the art of resilience.  It’s easy to run from difficulty into the arms of some substance or pursuit in effort to avoid pain.  Pain of boredom, pain of dashed expectations, pain of meaninglessness in the mundane areas of life.

I do not want to make light of addiction.  It’s real and it’s devastating.  I’ve been there.  But are there things we can do to fight the urge to run and hide?  I believe there are.

Thoughts for reflection:

  • Have you stopped long enough, in sobriety and self-evaluation, to ask yourself What is my pain trying to tell me?
  • How are the Baby Boomers through the Millenials dealing differently with the harshness of life than our forbears from the Depression and World War II, the “Greatest Generation?”
  • Have you considered that pain, some or maybe all of it, is actually a chisel to mold you into a stronger person?

This is not going away, at least not in the near future.  How will you answer the questions pain asks of you?

 

Suggested Resources:

The Gift of Pain (Paul Brand and Philip Yancey)

The Problem of Pain (C.S. Lewis)

 

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