Archives for posts with tag: pain

Garth Brooks is the  best selling solo albums artist in the United States, ahead of Elvis Presley, and is second only to the Beatles in total album sales overall. He is also one of the world’s best selling artists of all time, having sold more than 170 million records.

In one of Brooks’ songs, The Dance, he reflects on a failed romantic relationship. One moment “all the world was right” and then it was over. Dancing underneath the stars he remembers feeling that “Holding you I held everything.” He felt like a king but then the king would fall.

In spite of this negative experience he does not bemoan the fact of failure. Instead he suggests that although it was painful, he was glad he “didn’t know the way it all would end, the way it all would go” because if he had missed the pain he would have also missed the dance.

I have heard it said that there is no gain without some pain. Most often this comment is related to physical fitness. The premise is that the harder you work your muscles the greater the reward will be. The principle also points to a spiritual lesson. In the 2nd Century Rabbi Ben Hei Hei said “According to the pain is the gain.” The suggestion is that spiritual growth (gain) is accomplished by enduring the “pain” of doing God’s will rather than following one’s own desires.

The message is simple but not easily achieved. In Psychology Today, Romeo Vitelli says that there are three primary factors to what he calls psychological resilience- the ability to survive and grow from difficult circumstances. The first of these is self-regulation (control), or the ability to control impulses, manage difficult emotions, and being able to carry on despite setbacks.

Vitelli goes on to say that it is very helpful in dealing with traumatic life events or emotional distress if a person also has supportive relationships of family and friends.

The third component to overcoming traumatic experiences, Vitelli calls “meaning-making.” By this he is referring to the ability to understand and to explain what someone is experiencing.

I agree with Dr. Vitelli that all three of these components are essential for healthy response and survival of difficult and traumatic experiences. But I would add that he has missed an important element, especially in what he calls “mean-making”- faith in God.

While humans are incredible creatures endowed with remarkable abilities, we are all fallible beings. It has been said that into every life some rain must fall but how we respond to circumstances determines whether we gain or lose from that experience. Heredity, environment and many other factors impact every person. Our ability to cope is impacted by a multitude of things but there is one promise that is equally accessible.

Jesus said, “trust in me and you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world” (John 16:33, The Message).

Jamie Jenkins

Advertisements

I had a fall a few months ago and injured my shoulder. I tore the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and their tendons act to stabilize the shoulder. This type of injury is fairly common occurring most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports.

An illustration of the shoulder joint and tendons.

The risk of rotator cuff injury also increases with age. Aging and a hard fall combined to cause my injury. Sometimes physical therapy solves the problem but some cuff tears require surgical repair.

A woman slips and falls on ice.

My injury required surgery after which I was given a sling to stabilize and support my arm. The surgeon told me in a follow up visit a few weeks later that I did not have to wear the sling all the time and he did not want my arm to be “glued to my side.” In other words, I was to move the injured arm as much as possible to prevent the shoulder from freezing up. I understood what the doctor said but it was extremely painful to do move that arm.

The surgeon and many people who have had rotator cuff surgery told me that recovery would take a long time and it would be hard. They are correct. Yesterday marked 4 months since surgery and 3 months since I began physical therapy. Things are better but I have still have a good way to go for full recovery.

One day during a physical therapy I heard one of the therapists tell another patient that “You have re-program your brain.” I am learning that is a very big part of recovery.

When we are injured, physically or emotionally, our brain signals us to protect ourselves. It is difficult to deal with the pain and easy to avoid it. If it hurts to move the shoulder, my brain tells me to keep it stationary. If is it painful to acknowledge words or actions that hurt me, it is easy to deny or try to forget. But things won’t get better if we avoid the issue.

Surgery and hard exercises are helping me to recover from a rotator cuff injury. Something similar also helps to overcome emotional injuries. All of our experiences and the feelings that accompanied the experiences are stored in our brain. Memories of painful experiences are tough to deal with but facing them honestly is the first step in overcoming their paralyzing grip.

Mike Robinson* says, “Many people bury the memories of wounds and injuries caused by negative words, actions and attitudes rather than face the pain. In doing so, they also bury the possibility of healing.” A long time ago I discovered a book by David Seamands, Healing for Damaged Emotions, that was very helpful to me in dealing with painful memories. Robinson and Seamands both offer counsel to help heal emotional hurts that are every bit as real as physical injury.

 

It would have been foolish of me to deny that my shoulder hurt and refuse medical solutions. It is equally valid to seek spiritual help for emotional pain. We are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings. God wants us to be healthy in all three aspects of our life.

Jamie Jenkins

(http://www.barnabasnetwork.com/emotional_healing_2)