The Princess Bride, a modern fairy tale employing all of the standard elements like Royalty, clearly defined heroes and villains, stark contrasts between good and evil, hints of magic and happy endings, is one of my favorite flicks.
While there are so many parts of this movie that make one laugh, there are also just as many parts that offer insight.
In one poignant moment, just after Princess Buttercup is mocked by the “Dread Pirate Roberts” and before she rediscovers her long, lost Wesley, the Pirate King reminds her that “Life is pain.”
And he is right, at least partially.
Life is certainly filled with moments or seasons of pain.
No one likes to feel pain. In fact, we all would choose to flee pain over feeling pain any day of the week. This ‘flee pain over feel pain’ urge is the seed-bed in which many addictions grow!
Yes, there is something to be said for an honest experience of feeling your pain.
Feeling your pain may, in fact, be the key that unlocks the door which opens to a new you!
Conversely, fleeing your pain – or striving to fix it too quickly, may be the reason the door remains locked.
I recently discovered some valuable lessons through the experience of feeling, rather than fleeing, my pain.
Though It’s Tough, I’d Rather Feel My Pain Than Flee My Pain Any Day!
It’s probably a good idea for me to explain what I mean by the phrase feel my pain.
What I don’t mean is that I welcome pain and wear it like a badge.
There are those who do welcome their pain and parade it about for the whole world to see.
You know the type. When these folks are in pain, we all know it, in the worse way possible.
There is a segment of the Christian culture that wears pain like a banner of righteousness, carrying a martyr complex that establishes their unrivaled spiritual superiority. It’s as if their pain a sign of faith and our ease is somehow a lack of faith.
That sounds absurd, but it’s a real thing. I’ve witnessed it dozens, maybe hundreds of times before.
Conversely, I don’t think that denying it, or pretending that we’re not in pain (or it’s not that bad) is all that helpful, either. There are a couple of ways we deny our pain and refuse to feel its impact (this is like fleeing it).
- We suck it up and press on through it (this tends to be my way of handling it).
- We medicate (drug) it as we pretend it’s not all that bad so we can get a decent night’s sleep.
You know those people when you see them, too. They are the ones who tend to pass the buck and blow right by people. People who don’t have time for their pain, rarely have time for anyone or anything else.
I confess this second way has been my default response to pain for years.
A Third-Way May Be the Best Way
When I say that I am learning to ‘feel my pain,’ I have at least three or four ways I understand that phrase:
- I first need to recognize and identify it as something that’s real, powerful, and potentially destabilizing.
- Next, I need to absorb it in my gut – at core levels – and discover what’s going on beneath it and why I feel it.
- Then I need to find someone (usually my wife and another close friend) with whom I can share my pain. This person needs to be someone who isn’t quick to try to fix everything. I need a companion; someone with me in the moment (moments) and who allows me to be where I am.
- Finally, I need to deliver it to the Lord.
Or, to put it this way:
- Recognize its power in my life.
- Absorb it so I can explore it and what’s causing it.
- Share it with a friend.
- Offer it to the Lord.
This pattern isn’t linear. I’ve found, in the past six months, that it’s more of a spiral-like experience. Not so much one that goes round-and-round, but one that takes me deeper and higher.
Deeper into the pain and higher unto Him.
Feeling the Pain that Takes You Deeper and Higher Will Lead to A Break-Through Moment
This spiral-like deeper/higher experience is a pattern I find repeatedly expressed in the book of Psalms. Often, when the Psalmist (usually King David) comes around to acknowledging his pain, you can tell that he feels it and absorbs the full force of its weight. He’s quick to offer it to the Lord and trust that He will deliver him from it or hold him in the midst of it.
As the Dread Pirate Roberts says, “Life is pain.”
Or life is, at least, filled with seasons of pain.
Multiple Types of Pain
There are, of course, many types or manifestations of pain:
- Loss of hope.
- Physical illness.
- The pain of saying goodbye.
- The pain of being unsettled in life.
- Pain at work.
- A home-life that’s deteriorating.
- Failing marriage
- A dream that’s finally come to an end
Regardless of the type of pain you will experience or are experiencing, hope rests in having the courage to feel it!
I’ve learned, only recently, to recognize, absorb, share, and offer my pain.
My old patterns were to deny, pretend, fight through it, give up in the midst of it.
Just this week, I realize that last year, 2018, will go down as the year I finally broke through that old pattern.
As such, I believe I am heading into another season of joy, energy, and excitement.
So, if you’re in pain or experiencing pain, put the old default patterns on the shelf.
Turn to the book of Psalms and watch as they recognize, absorb, share and offer their pain. Indeed, that is – I believe – the key to opening the door to the brand new you!
Disrupting to Renew!