I went and got a massage on my shoulder and neck the other day after a couple of weeks of intense pain.   I have this problem of waking up to find that I am sleeping with my arms over my head, and the next thing I know my neck and shoulders are tense and pained and out of alignment due to a previous injury I experienced as a child.   Going to the massage therapist would work hard to remove the muscle knots and tension in my neck and shoulders, and I knew that the experience would be painful.  In fact,  I might have intense pain that day, and the day after; however, I was moving toward healing physical pain by forcing myself to go through more pain.  Dealing with pain that creates more pain is an analogy that sums up most of the ongoing physical, emotional, and spiritual pain we struggle with in life.  We either move toward solutions that will be painful in the short term, or we avoid the nagging pain we feel every day.  It’s true that we can choose to live with pain or sometimes we have no choice in the pain that is inflicted upon us. Regardless, we do have a choice with what we do with that pain.  Will I move toward healing solutions for the painful things that continue to drain me or will I allow the nagging pain to continue?  I don’t know about you, but when I am in pain, it drains my happiness in many areas:  I cannot rest well, I can be more cranky with my family, I avoid things that usually please me because I fear pain, and pain makes me physically tired.   We avoid dealing with the painful situation because we know it will be worse in the short term. However, the long terms effects on us are even more severe.  Depression, anger, and powerlessness tend to seep into other areas of our lives, and soon we realize how far we have allowed that painful situation to go.  For many people, the very addictions they deal with were short term pain “medications” they choose to use instead of going through a period of learning new ways to cope with pain.   What is the painful situation you are not moving toward bringing about a solution?  Why are you allowing the pain to continue to drain happiness out of you?  It’s amazing how having a hard conversation with someone can free you from depressive behaviors you had allowed to creep into your life.  It’s amazing how making the hard decision to put up strong boundaries with draining people in your life brings about more freedom.  Every time we move toward pain it is temporarily harder; nonetheless, the long term benefits are huge!  The book of Hebrews says it this way, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

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