You know the kind of pain I’m talking about? The piercing emotions you can actually (and physically) feel. The anger that boils, or the sadness that numbs or the rejection that feels like nausea? Yes, this is the unfortunate reality of living in a broken world. Emotional pain is unfair, yet we all go through it. You might be going through it right now.
The most successful people have experienced it. Great minds have been broken by it. Some never find the way out.
But there is hope for us all!
You see, Jesus Himself dealt with it. And knowing we would too, He said,
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
His words are comforting. I believe them to be true. Take heart.
But it’s still hard. Pain sucks. Feeling lonely sucks. Having endless conversations with self-pity really suck. Yet, this too shall pass. And here are the 6 must-do’s while you are hurting:
1. Don’t Pretend You’re Ok:
It seem easier. You fake the smile. Small-talk your way through the day. But it will only make it worse. Don’t extend the misery. Pretending is an instantaneous non-lasting-fix, because eventually, the pain will come out. So cry, scream, break a few things if you need to. God is not afraid of your darkness. Actually, the Spirit creates in it. Now, I’m not telling you to be miserable every second of every day in front of every person you ever meet. But don’t put on the extra pressure of trying to perform like things are good, because they’re not, and that is why you need to:
2. Talk to Others:
Find friends you can confide in. The ones who won’t judge you or try to sort it out. Those beautiful ears that are willing to get dirty with your mess. It’s nearly impossible to overcome without them (I’ve tried, it’s impossible).
But also be open to professional counselling and/or therapy.
It’s a worthwhile investment of your time and money. One of the scariest thing for me as a pastor was admitting that I needed outside help. I felt like that minimised my message of faith in God. But I cannot tell you how much my wife and I have enjoyed seeing a marriage counselor. I’ve had so much good come from getting prayer and ministry and advice from doctors and therapists and other pastors. I was very good at being vulnerable enough to appear humble, but now I’m learning to be vulnerable enough to actually be humbled. So, share your crap. Don’t stay quite. You’re worth listening to.
Sorry for being obvious, but forgiveness seems to be the skill we lose first when pain invades. We justify our own behaviours while blaming everyone else for how we feel. And it’s possible we have a good point. You might be hurting because you’ve been rejected, abandoned or abused. And those people don’t deserve your mercy. But that’s the beauty of forgiveness. It’s like skydiving; as you travel 124mph towards the ground, you have no option but to open the parachute. You always have a choice, but you don’t really have a choice. We all have the “right” to stay offended, but that “right” might lead us to get worse.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. Lewis B. Smedes
4. Practice Gratitude:
I hate doing it, but every time I do, I feel so much better. This is how it goes: I focus on all the positive that surrounds me. Then, I start to be grateful and speak it out, “I’m so grateful for my wife and sons”, “So glad I have a job”, “Thank you God for my church family.” According to Alex Korb in Psychology today, “Once you start seeing things to be grateful for, your brain starts looking for more things to be grateful for. And that’s how the virtuous cycle gets created.” Right now we are in a pain/hurt/shame cycle, but we don’t have to stay there. We have a way out: Thanks-Giving (Try it now, “God I’m so grateful for the good-looking pastor/blogger who wrote this) Wow, I feel better already 🙂
Will we focus on the size of our problem or the size of our God? The reality is, we can’t do both.
5. Don’t make major decisions:
The easiest fix is to leave. Move away. (Run Forrest, Run) And although pain could be a legitimate invitation for drastic change, make sure the decision comes when you are in a place of peace. When the storm has passed and counsel has been received. I know, it’s natural for your heart to want to protect itself. It’s normal to look for ways to take control. But the best solution is surrender. Embrace the process. Don’t waste your sorrows. Walk humbly.
6. Remember God:
There are so many promises in the Bible for us the hurting. There is so much for us to remember while we’re in pain. He’s the God of all Comfort. And it’s not like He’s approaching us just to fix us. He truly just wants to be present. To be there for you! To love you, care for you, stand with you. And in His incredible love, the “fixing” is natural (properly, supernatural). Sometimes it’s the easiest thing to do, and other times, it’s literally the hardest, but no matter how you feel right now, I promise you, this ALWAYS works: Trust God for He is very good and nothing can separate you from His love.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Are you hurting right now? Share with us the ways your manage your emotional pain. Hopefully, talking about the solutions will help us conquer the journey.
It helps me.
And so I write.
+ This 6 minutes are for you:
++ For those of you wanting to go the extra mile with your spouse, we HIGHLY recommend: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert