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Can't Stop the Pain


Several years ago, I broke my ankle at Hawaiian Falls. How I broke my ankle is horrifically embarrassing, and I will only tell close friends the actual story. Following the incident, I thought I was ok, even though I could hardly walk on it. The bottom line is that I'm cheap: I didn't want to pay money to go to the ER, and I didn't want to have to pay for a doctor's visit just for them to tell me everything is fine. Except it wasn't fine. Over the next few weeks, the pain increased, and I knew something was definitely wrong. By the time I finally went to the doctor, I was told that a piece of my ankle bone had chipped off, and it had already started to fuse back together incorrectly. The only way to fix it was to have surgery. That was a big "nope" from me. There was no way I was paying money for surgery to fix a tiny chip on my ankle, and even then, there was no guarantee I would ever be pain-free.

This physically painful incident taught me much more than to just go ahead and go to the ER when I hurt myself. The lingering pain and the aches I feel when the weather changes taught me about what happens to us when we ignore not just our physical pain, but our emotional pain as well. When we hurt ourselves physically, we understand that there will be pain. We know that we need to go see a doctor and get stitches, bones set, or we may even need surgery. We understand that there is a healing process we must undertake to make our bodies whole again.

In the summer of '99, I nearly cut my left index finger off at the first knuckle joint. I immediately went to the ER (this time!) to get stitches. The pain of the lidocaine needle was worse than the steak knife that sliced through my tissue and tendons. I remember writhing in pain when the doctor crammed that needle into my wound. However, I understood this additional pain as part of the healing process. I didn't want to have to get the stitches--or the eventual surgery--but I wanted to be healed and put back together more than the ensuing pain. I had to endure the needle, the surgery, the rehab, so that I would heal properly. If I refused to take any of these steps, I would never regain the proper use of my index finger.

We understand the pain and healing process with our physical bodies, but most of us will do anything and everything to avoid the pain of emotional healing. Why should it be any different? When we experience emotional pain, we want it to go away at all costs. We turn to the bottle. We turn to pills. We turn to sex. We turn to porn. We turn to food. We turn to our phones. All of those things give us instant gratification--it makes us feel better in the moment. Each one of these things helps us take our minds off the emotional pain we are experiencing. Why in the world do we not think to go to the ER and the Doctor when we experience emotional pain? Stripping our hurts down to the bone is gut-wrenching--just like setting a broken bone. But we would all be more than willing to get a broken bone set. How many people would actually say, "Nah, Doc. I think I'll just let my tibia stay outside my shin the rest of my life. I can just cover it up with my pants, and it will feel better eventually"? That would be ludicrous.

The bottom line is that when we get hurt, it hurts even more to be healed. We have to be willing to feel the secondary hurt in order to heal. If we face our emotional pain in the same way we face our physical pain, imagine the healing that could take place in our souls! Our thought process must change from, "I'm hurt, so I want to feel better," to, "This is going to hurt to dig out all the pain, but it will be worth it so I can heal and actually be better." When we go to the Lord as our emotional doctor, and the Bible as our emotional ER, then we are able to be fully healed. When Isaiah writes in Isaiah 53:5 that "by His wounds, we are healed," why do we think it's only our physical healing? God is our Jehovah Rapha--the God who heals--there isn't a caveat that says "Sorry, only physical healing." He can heal anything--physical or emotional. So let Him, because we can't stop the pain on our own.

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