Isn't it interesting the many different ways humans will find to try to avoid emotional pain? I can understand doing everything possible to relieve physical pain, but think of what our world would be like if everyone could be taught how to cope with and overcome emotional pain? If there was one skill I could choose to have been taught early in life, this would be it.
I look around at the choices many people make in order to numb themselves or to drown out their spirit's cries. I see pain manifest in so many different forms of addiction, compulsive behaviors, depression, and anxiety disorders. And then there are those who lash out at others and cause pain for them also. I've been there. It's not a happy way to live.
How much more peace would be in a person's heart if they could face their own pain, accept it, and work past it? It's not easy. Just like cleaning a wound tends to increase the pain temporarily, facing emotional pain will often make it feel like it's intensifying at first. This is where a lot of people give up and turn back to destructive or unhealthy coping habits, because it helps to bring that pain back down to a manageable level. But just like a wound that needs to be cleaned and cared for to heal properly, our emotional and spiritual wounds need to be opened, cleansed, and then treated to fully heal.
It seems like most emotional and spiritual pain can be healed with two things- Christ's love and forgiveness. His love is eternal and all-encompassing. It's available to each of us, at all times. Through Christ we can do all things. It takes a lot of faith to not just believe in Him but to believe Him and what He has taught. It takes courage to take those first steps toward healing. But He can give us strength we don't have on our own. And as we draw closer to Him and rely on Him we will be better able to withstand the treatments needed to heal our wounds.
Forgiveness can come in two ways- we are forgiven (by God and by ourselves) or we forgive others.
When we have done something wrong we can ask God for forgiveness and He will freely give it. Unfortunately a lot of people think that all they have to do is ask once and then *poof* they're forgiven. Not so. God requires that we repent by forsaking the sin (quitting what we were doing) and making restitution as far as possible. Only then will we receive full and complete forgiveness. We can also make the mistake in thinking that if we've repented and gained forgiveness that we won't have to suffer the consequences of our actions. Again, God is a just God. He gives laws and expects us to follow them. With some laws there are penalties attached for disregarding them. And in those cases we will have to deal with the sometimes very painful consequences regardless of our level of repentance or how quickly God has forgiven us.
To forgive others is just as essential to our emotional and spiritual health as gaining God's forgiveness is. If we have bad feelings for someone else it is poisoning our souls. Often the poison of unforgiveness is more harmful to us than the original wound that was inflicted on us. It doesn't matter what other cleansing and treatment you do to a wound, if you leave poison in it it's not going to heal! We have to ask for God's help in being able to forgive those who have hurt us. This doesn't mean that we let someone continue hurting us, or that we have to accept abuse. It simply means that we are able to let go of the hateful feelings we have toward that person and move on with our own life. We are given freedom by letting go of the pain.
In this life we're going to experience a lot of pain. Physical, emotional, spiritual. It's all a part of life. But what we do with that pain, how we respond to it, and how we grow as we work our way through it will be a testament to our understanding of God's plan for us. He wants us to experience the fullest of joys and the ultimate happiness. We just have to stick to His path, regardless of how many rocks and thorns are put in our way. Remember Christ's example- He never went looking for pain, but He also never ran from it. He did all that was required of Him in spite of the most incredible pain ever experienced. And He overcame it all so that He can help us do the same.