Turning the Page

The One Thing to Remember when the Emotional Pain is too much

January 16, 2021

Emotional pain can bump our lives into behaviors that can hurt us further. But we can make a change by learning to listen to the pain, where it’s sourced, and what it wants us to do.

He was in pain. I could see it, feel it, and totally understand it. I couldn’t take his emotional pain away, but I did want him to know one thing.

She was also was in pain. In everything she said and did, there was an expression of emotional pain. I wanted her to know this one thing.

The bumps of emotional pain

We all experience emotional pain. Possibly pain has been one of the most contributing factors in the development of your self. You get hurt; you avoid what hurt you. The sharp chisel blows of life in some way have shaped your very being and doing.

I keep thinking of bumper boats careering into you, pushing you this way and that.

Perhaps when people express the words ‘God, I want to die,’ they are really simply wanting the pain to end.

That pain of loneliness, abuse, shame, guilt, loss, rejection, etc.

Those painful feelings become so overwhelming that they block out any light.

The pain becomes such a normative experience that any belief that there is a life without that pain is beyond belief. When you’re in that place, there is no light. You’re surrounded and alone, in a darkness that is pounding against you.

Storm waves of emotional pain keep crashing against the architecture of your brain.

A Vicar is needed

Jesus experienced pain. There was the crucifixion’s physical pain, which is beyond our understanding, but there was also the emotional pain. Something that we can understand.

There was the pain of betrayal, vulnerable naked exposure, abuses, mocking, abandonment, rejection. Name the emotional pain, and Jesus would have experienced it.

One of the most liberating words I have ever discovered is the word ‘Vicarious.’

It simply means to ‘do something or experience something in place of another.’

Vicar Jesus lived a perfect life on your behalf. He got everything right.

Christ has also experienced every imaginable emotional pain that you are going through. He knows what being fully human is fully like.

You have to ask yourself this question. ‘Would you trust a tour guide who hasn’t actually walked the path’?

Jesus has walked the path and got the emotional wounds to prove it.

Meet Your New Vicar

When I am in emotional pain, I want a vicar. Someone who has been there, done that, and without any F.A.S.S. attitudes (Fixing, Advising, Saving, or ‘Setting one straight).

When you are in emotional pain, you want connection.

Alone, I die. Together, we climb.

A vicar will be someone who will help you tease out the pain. What is the pain, and where is it coming from. What are the bumps and knocks causing you to do?

They will also see where your pain takes you. Out of our being flows our doing. What habits have you created in your life to cope with emotional pain?

Has that pain led to habits and demands to work harder, keep busy, perfectionism?

The pain has an invite.

What does your pain invite or even demand you to do?

Pain can invite you into addictions: the bottle, the drugs, the porn.

Maybe the shopping mall, the binge eating, the self-harm.

Anything that numbs the loneliness, the shame, the loss.

The young man who rings the bell at the brothel is unconsciously looking for God. Bruce Marshall. The World, the Flesh and Father Smith

The invite of the brothel, or the porn website, is ‘Come. For the briefest of moments, we can dull the pain out of your existence’.

The one thing to remember.

You’re not alone.

I want to talk about the pain I carry, but who will listen without F.A.S.S.‘ing me.

We need to know that we’re not alone. When we are alone with our emotional pain, we quickly and easily succumb to the doing of things to dull the pain. We self medicate.

I have a friend who has been there done that. Knows every imaginable pain that humanity has within itself.

So I write to P.A.P.A.  I journal and express that pain. As I express something gets relieved. Like the tension on a stretched out rubber band, it becomes relaxed.

Some people draw and create art. Some write songs and sing. (think the laments of the psalms and lamentations)

As I express, there is a quiet, soothing whisper that comes to console. Of course, you have to learn to listen for the words ‘I am with you,’ but in the darkness, they are always there.

Then perhaps a new millimeter step of hope creeps into our being. A little movement can be a whole lot.

We don’t need to reach for the stars when we have stardust in our hands.

It’s a gradual thing—small millimeter steps.

There will always be some element of emotional pain whilst in this human existence, but it doesn’t have to the dominant force. It can simply part of our shadow. There, but not dominating our vision.

You’re not alone, never have been, never will be.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened [carrying emotional pain], and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus Matthew 11:28-30

More Vicars Needed

We need more good listeners who can point in their worn sandaled way to how their emotional pain has been transformed into something sacred and good.

It’s about listening and being ‘with someone.’ So that when the emotional pain demands relief, wisdom is on the offer. A new millimeter path is available to take.

It’s taking those journal scribbles and notes and gently reading between the lines to where the pain is. Then offering a prayer of ‘being with them.’

Emotional pain can bump our lives into behaviors that can hurt us further. But we can make a change by learning to listen to the pain, where it’s sourced, and what it wants us to do.

Quotes to consider

  • The heart and the key to the Christian message is the vicarious nature of the life of Christ. Yes, He died for you, but He also lived as you, and performed on your behalf. David Riddell
  • Emotional pain always results when life’s experiences go beyond the answers we already have. Dig deeper for more wisdom or go on hurting. David Riddell
  • Those who do not turn to face their pain are prone to impose it. Terrence Real
  • Redeemed pain is more impressive to me than removed pain Phillip Yancey.
  • Suffering often shapes and teaches us and precedes most significant resurrections. Richard Rohr
  • Pain is the rent we pay for being human, it seems, but suffering is usually optional. Richard Rohr
  • Unless a bishop, teacher, or minister has on some level walked through suffering, failure, or humiliation, his or her words will tend to be fine but superficial, OK but harmless, heard by the ears but unable to touch the soul. Richard Rohr

Questions to answer

  1. Can you give examples of emotional pain?
  2. What behaviors or actions do you have that flow out of emotional pain?
  3. What quote above spoke to you the most?

Further reading

Barry Pearman

Photo by Taras Chernus on Unsplash

 

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