21st October 2015, Prismacolor pencils on A3 cartridge paper
I’ve been learning that one of my coping mechanisms to deal with my pain is denial.
Sometimes I don’t even know that I’m denying pain. My automatic response says: ‘That didn’t hurt me. There’s nothing to cry about. Why would that affect me?’
In times when I can’t deny my pain, my automatic response says: ‘I’m not allowed to feel pain. There must be something wrong with me if I’m feeling pain.’ I berate myself for feeling pain and push it away.
I heard a podcast by Charles Stanley, and he mentioned that if you have an issue with something in your life, God will bring it up so you can deal with it instead of deny it.
This year has been the most painful year of my life. So many different types of painful situations have come up that it’s finally made me confront pain. I’ve needed to face it because no matter how much I try to push it away, I can’t get away from it. My coping mechanism fails me.
So, I was hiding in the pantry and while I was kneeling on the floor, I was crying so hard I was shaking. My automatic thoughts of denial came out like normal but then I heard God speak.
This is how it happened:
Me: I’m sorry I’m crying. I can’t stand this pain. I don’t want to feel it. I’ll come back when I’m better because this is clearly not okay.
God: It is okay. You don’t need to apologise for your tears. You’re allowed to feel pain. Embrace it. Cry in my hand.
This was the first time I encountered the concept that it’s okay to feel pain. It was so new to me that it shocked me out of crying. I remember feeling comforted by the offer, but I couldn’t take it just yet. Why not?
I stood up, walked out of the pantry and spent some time thinking about this new perspective on pain.
I realized that as well as denying pain, another coping mechanism I have is to fix pain. I didn’t want to sit and cry in God’s hand; I wanted to go out and fix the problem so I wouldn’t have to feel the pain it caused. I knew I couldn’t fix everything though; this year has taught me that.
Then I realized that I don’t need to fix everything. Because God is the Great Fixer. He is fixing things even when it seems everything is too messy. And when that mess hurts me, instead of rushing around trying to fix the world, I can sit still in God’s hand and cry because he holds the world.
I used to think God wouldn’t embrace me if I embraced my pain. Now my theology of pain says that when I embrace my pain, that’s when God can embrace me.