So, on my continuing journey of self-discovery, I find myself once again buried face deep in my pillow bellowing out a sound so deep it appears to be coming from a humpback whale. But low and behold, it’s just me. Again. Bawling. My little eyeballs out. So what is this pain that I feel, so obscured within the depths of my solar plexus? It’s not the same pain that seems to come from my upper chest region like when I feel anxiety or am mourning the loss of a favorite pair of shoes. Nor is this the same pain that dwells in my lower stomach that seems to stem from deep anger and disgust. This type of pain is buried smack dap in between the two and I know that when I cry like this, it’s coming from a place so hidden that the scars that exist here cannot be removed simply by a change of life circumstances. This is a soul cry… and it is looking for relief.
What exactly is pain?
How is it used in the physical body?
And how did God design pain for use in the spiritual body?
I’m glad you asked, because I think I may have discovered some interesting answers…
Pain = usually an uncomfortable sensation sensed by the body in response to a stimuli. The sensation is interpreted by the nerve cells as “pain” and tells your brain that something is wrong. The brain then responds with an action in order to remove the uncomfortable sensation.
fire + hand –> brain (ouch) –> pull hand away
Pain is an extremely useful tool for the body because it generally forces us to pay attention to something that could cause the physical body serious harm. Imagine life with no physical pain! We could walk through fires, cut off limbs, even perform surgery, without having felt a thing. But if we did desire to do those things, surely most humans would have a life expectancy of about 2, because we all now how curious toddlers can be! One of the first cautions of danger a toddler learns is “hot, ouch!” This forces us to stay away from potential dangers that could inevitably maim or kill us. And so, pain is an extremely effective sensation that keeps us in check. Of course, like anything in this crazy world, pain is usually used as a tool for manipulation and destruction. Ah, the joys of “humanity.”
I think that understanding how pain works in the physical body can seriously shed light on how it works in the other body that we can’t see, the spiritual body.
I have come to believe humans consist of 2 bodies which are both guided and controlled by the mind and the heart. Now, stick with me here. I know this may seem a little “out there” and I am by no means a psychologist, neurologist or any other “gist” out there that studies things about the body. I am just a fellow human who is extremely analytical and LOVES to figure out how people work, myself included. Well I mainly care about how I work. So, these are solely my “theories” that seem to make sense to ME. Of course as a uniquely created individual, you may not think that any of these bat$h*t theories apply to you and so you are free to disagree… I would love to hear any one else’s own personal understanding in relation to this topic… And so, getting back to what I was saying: 2 bodies (spiritual & physical) mainly influenced by the mind and the heart. This is where we must find the balance between rationale and compassion.
I believe that our soul is the bridge between the two worlds, physical and spiritual, which would make sense why Jesus is so adament about people treasuring the unseen things of this world that lead to “everlasting life” (love, compassion, forgiveness, humility, etc). Because sin leads to death. Death of our hearts, death of our love, death of our souls, death of our relationships, even the death of our inherent connection to God. When we sin against someone, we become the vehicle for death. When someone sins against us, a part of us dies. “Sin” is rooted in selfishness and whenever we hurt someone, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we are contributing to this destruction of the soul. But when we lift people up, encourage them, open their eyes to truth, there is something within us that begins to feel renewed, uplifted, restored when we are on the receiving end of such good things because all love brings life. However, there is a HUGE twist here: not all things that lead to death are painFUL and not all things leading to life are painLESS. Pain alone cannot be an indicator of anything other than something is wrong. I’m convinced there are two types of pain: that which exists from being hurt by someone (unresolved issues, feelings, unforgiveness) and that which is a sacrifcial pain used to build strength and character (working out “no pain, no gain”, working THROUGH issues, problems, etc). Everyone gets hurt, and to some extent, we’ve all experienced some form of abuse, whether mild or severe. The difference between those who survive and those who THRIVE is the ability to use the pain constructively in order to work THROUGH IT, rather than suffer IN IT.
And here’s the most interesting thing I’ve learned through this whole experience… pain is the roadmap to your innermost being. Follow the pain and you’ll eventually get to the root of your issue! But how do we do that? Pretend your mind is a huge, messy, disorganized filing cabinet and somewhere in there are some files you want to get rid of or burn! You begin looking through the cabinet, and some of the labels trigger memories or thoughts. Notice how you feel when thinking about the people, events connected to that thought. Does this person or event have something in common with another event or person? How do you feel when you think of those things? You are litterally searching your mind while paying attention to your heart and soul at the same time. Call it the mind, body connection, if you will. We all have triggers. Something from childhood that hurt us. Whether divorce, death, social acceptance, abuse, mean teachers, feeling inadequate, whatever… think about how you feel in relation to these things and you will eventually find the source of your pain. If you are someone who has grown up with dysfunction, abuse, or neglect, you may still have many unresolved issues (or emotions floating around without specific connections to specific events). I know I did, I still have some. The way our brain processes trauma is designed to “protect” an overload to our system, hence why people become defensive, emotionally disconnected, etc. We NEED to connect feelings to events in our lives in order to find a resolution to these issues. I have found that once I have found the root of my issue and connected the feeling to specific events or people in my life, I now needed to learn how to cognitively retrain my mind to think differently. For example, I used to have serious stage fright. I couldn’t even talk in front of a class, let alone sing in front of anyone. The anxiety I would get even thinkin about it could make me throw up. I realized why I felt that way over time. There were a few different roots to the issue. One of them being that I was terribly bullied as a kid and never felt accepted by my peers. So being an approval addict, I became deathly afaid of any situations that would cause rejection. But in time, through so much prayer, connecting to God, realizing the truth for what it was and by telling myself that I am a person of value and worth, I began believing it and I overcame a huge fear of mine. All pain is rooted in fear. My greatest fear has been rejection. But knowing this is half the battle! I can continue to know through bible verses, mantras, affirmations or just by plainly talking to God about what I’m going through, that it doesn’t matter what the world thinks of me! I was created with many gifts and many weaknesses. I’ve learned to be honest about my weaknesses rather than to cover them with “perfectionism.” But in the end, when it comes to resolving most of my issues, it’s only been through forgiveness and acceptance (including myself!) that I’ve learned to move on and enjoy life without the pain holding me prisoner.
I genuinely believe that God wants to heal all of our pain. It’s usually us who don’t want to let it go. God allows us to feel pain because without it, we would never know that there was something wrong. We are created with a mind, body and soul. And when there is any kind of pain inflicted on either of these parts of us, the whole body feels it. We don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do. We can’t remember every thought, feeling, situation we’ve ever encountered, however it’s all stored in our minds. Our brains are natural video, audio and emotional recorders. There is a design and purpose to everything in life. There is not one thing that goes wasted in this world. Not even pain. Pain can be used to bring out your beauty or your ugliness, but really the choice is yours. If you’re scared to face it, you don’t ever have to do it alone. Your Jesus will guide you every step of the way in the way YOU need it. He knows you inside and out and is the only “therapist” qualified to make you the person He created you to be. Don’t let fear or pain hold you prisoner anymore…
If you are someone who has overcome pain or fear in your life, I would LOVE to hear about your story and how you did it. It’s inspiring and encouraging when we can be honest with ourselves and others about who we truly are and how we have overcome adversity. Let us be a community of builders, not demolition experts.
Thank you Jesus for showing me how I work! You created every single part of my being and no one knows me better than you do. Even when I didn’t know myself and was suffering in my pain, you opened my eyes and made me see in a way that spoke to me. You know I don’t accept simple answers, I need to know how things really work, I need to understand them! And you have shown me with remarkable accuracy how I work and how you work within me. Thank you for making this blind girl see and I pray that those who read this, whether they know you or not, be opened to a new world of understanding and possibilites of what life could be like with their creator guiding them too. Thank you for your unconditional love and acceptance of this broken little soul…. I love you.