If I kicked you in the shin what would you do? This may seem like a silly question but the answer to this may help us understand how we react to pain. In general, it is safe to say that most humans have the same pattern of response to an assault that inflicts pain. The visual display may look different but the reaction has similar foundations. This same response can not only be seen with physical pain but also with the infliction of emotional distress.
As I have been reflecting about the concept of pain, 3 steps (obviously not the only steps) of pain response come to mind that manifest in different ways.
1. Expression of Pain (OUCH!)- When many experience an unwelcome trespass on their comfort, the natural urge is to make that infraction known. The reflex of expression shows the assailant that harm has been done and that, at the very least, restitution is deserved. Some try to mask this step by acting like everything is okay, but the bottled hurt manifests itself in other areas of life.
2. Anger- When a person comes to terms with the fact that there has been harm done to them anger or indignation occurs. This anger causes the mind to think of ways justice can be served. “Lashing out” for retribution often occurs. This reaction could be passive, and the individual may seek justice but this justice may look more like “pity” or the infliction of guilt on the opponent.
3. Questioning the Event– When someone is “kicked in the shin”, as was started earlier; the final response may be to question why they were the one hurt. Often times, if the answer is not adequate to the one harmed a new pattern of pain commences. A new cycle has begun.
Why am I saying all of this? Well, we can see this same pattern in our spiritual lives. Many people have been dealing with deep pain for a very long time. Pain that is unresolved can feed a cycle that leads to deeper anger, bitterness, and even addictions. If we can’t understand why we are hurting, or even refuse to seek an answer (we have become comfortable in our suffering) then doubt, fear, anxiety, or unhealthy relationships have a natural breeding ground.
Seek to understand how you respond to pain.
God is not calling us to lead a pain free life, but to be a living example of what healing looks like.