You may have read the first two parts in the pain series. If not, then I invite you to read them now. We all experience pain. We all have pain detectors. Pain is necessary.
And finally, pain changes us.
In Celebrate Recovery, the main theme is “Change is Possible.” Yes, change is definitely possible. Unfortunately, it is our pain which prompts us towards that inevitable change. Sometimes, I even say “change is painfully possible.” You don’t want to hear about pain? You don’t want to go through anymore pain? Hear me out here. Yes, change is painful. But change is powerful. Therefore, pain is powerful.
For most of us, it is/was our pain which brought us through the doors of our Celebrate Recovery. In our pain, we stopped reacting to that pain detector. We unplugged it, yelling at it, “I’M FINE!!!!!!!!” In fact, I still find myself screaming that at my pain detector. When we say “yes” to God, that doesn’t mean that all the pain will go away and magically turn to peace. In fact, pain changes us into who God wants us to be. It is through our pain that God turns us away from what breaks His heart. It is through pain that God’s strength is revealed. It is through pain that God gently (sometimes harshly) guides us back onto that path of righteousness.
Have you ever lifted weights? Or worked out after not having worked out for a long time? In the beginning, there is no pain. You get a great workout, and it’s done. However, a day later, the pain begins to creep in. The sore muscles are quite a nuisance, but it eventually recedes. After that, the muscles are stronger. You see, those muscles are being broken down, literally. The body then rebuilds itself to become stronger, to be strong enough to handle that same workout again. This is why you see that after a while, you are able to lift heavier weights. Can you imagine if you stopped lifting weights after the first sign of pain? Your body would eventually lose that strength, and won’t be able to increase its own strength. You would never get stronger. So let’s apply this to our emotional pain. God uses this emotional pain in the same way. When we are hurt by something, we cope with it by learning, through experience, to avoid that particular situation, event, or behavior, especially when it happens multiple times.
Pain breaks us down. It changes us. It changes how we look at life, how we view things, how we feel things, causes us to avoid things, causes us to run to other things. God sent His only son so that we may have everlasting life. What did Jesus have to endure? Pain and suffering. It was through Jesus’ pain and suffering that we have our own life. His pain changed us, changed our fate, changed our outcome. When we say “yes” to God, we are not promised a life free of pain. In fact, it is promised that we would. Everyone endures pain at some point in their life, and that pain changes everyone. The major difference is how we allow that pain to change us. Do we allow it to make us bitter, hateful, spiteful, untrusting? Does it push us away from God? Or are we choosing to believe there is a purpose of pain, to appreciate that God is using this pain to create us into who He desires us to be? Are we allowing Him to show us the purpose for our pain?
God can use that pain to bring hope to others, to shine the light of His glory upon others. How are you letting your pain change you?
April Brantley, CR Mental Health Team X-Factor