Pain is a Clarifying Force

Erik Cooper —  March 14, 2012 — 5 Comments

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, pain makes the feelings even clearer.

Peyton Manning’s jersey is on the clearance rack. How sobering. It’s not even like he went out on top, a la John Elway or Jerry Seinfeld. He’s going to be wearing another team’s logo, and sooner rather than later. I think we all knew how special Peyton was, but it’s fascinating how clearly everyone can see and express it now that he’s gone.

Goodbye is a clarifying force.

Our former next door neighbor (and functionally adopted daughter) Maddie came for a visit this past weekend. She was a staple in our house and in our kids’ lives for nearly a decade. We loved her when she shared our space, but something about her move to Missouri last year gave clear voice to why she had been so important to our family. We could verbalize it. When she was gone.

Loss is a clarifying force.

My wife has been in Cambodia for a week now (this is day 8 if you’re keeping score at home). I cherish Mandy every single day, but her absence has impulsively rekindled the emotions that are far too often swallowed up in the mundane of everyday life. I know exactly why I love her. I can see it. Speak it. Write it. Feel it.

Pain is a clarifying force.

How do we live there all the time? In the clarity that only seems to come when something is gone? With a heightened awareness of how special something or someone really is when they’re actually with us?

I don’t really know. I suppose some of it is just human nature. We get so used to someone being there that the gift blends into the back drop. Like living in Colorado for so long you stop seeing Pike’s Peak.

But I also wonder if we’re just afraid of feeling.

No one has to tell us to avoid pain. It’s instinctive. But when we limit the downside emotions we numb joy, too. Appreciation. Honor. Elation. Happiness. Celebration. Delight. Pleasure.

Sometimes we don’t feel because it seems safer to stop feeling. And I don’t want to live that way.

Pain is clarifying. But what if we could learn to consistently live in that kind of clarity every day? Do you think it’s possible?

5 responses to Pain is a Clarifying Force

  1. How funny you mention Pike’s Peak. We do live in Colorado. We’ve been here for 2 1/2 years. Upon arrival from Indiana, I was in absolute AWE every time I drove to Walmart, every time I headed to the gas station, every time I stepped outside my front door. I remember telling people how incredible the daily mundane errands had become as I stared full into a wide spread mountain view with each trip. I remember thanking God for the beautiful land He had brought us to as I teared up driving to the bank. Then probably 6 months ago, I discussed with my husband how I didn’t seem to notice the mountains anymore. They’re just background. He agreed. And now we are in the process of relocating to Nevada…Las Vegas. It was not a choice. And do you know as we are in our final 2 weeks in Colorado, I see the mountains again? I purposefully bask trying to take in every last detail. Even more, I see all the wide open spaces that I am going to dearly miss. :-/

    • Wow Tara, that’s an incredible insight. Was just in the Springs in January and nearly wrecked my car every time I drove somewhere staring at Pike’s Peak. Hard to believe we could become oblivious to it, but I know I’d say the same thing if I lived there.

      I wonder how long it will take before you stop noticing the bright lights of Vegas? 🙂

  2. Avoiding pain and becoming accustomed to pain leads to harmful behaviors that will manifest eventually as significantly deeper and more complicated problems. Correction at that chronic point is more difficult, more costly, and more emotionally entrenched. Regardless of whether the source of pain is physical, emotional, relational, mechanical, relational, or physiological/chemical – it is a Divinely designed warning signal that a problem is present that needs corrected soon or it will adversely impact the Creation – be it personal or Kingdom. So it is imperative that we remain pain sensitive so we can determine and correct the problem. Don’t dumb or numb the symptom so life can continue ” as is”. Status quo may be the problem. You may need a good heart check up … And NOT via a
    Cardiologist. Consult the Manufacturer’s Imstructions first or just consult with Him directly! He offers 24 hr care and unlike my own clinic – there’s no wait. He already knows what’s wrong!

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  1. Say It! | Beyond The Risk - Erik Cooper - March 15, 2012

    […] wife has been in Cambodia for 9 days now (have I mentioned this?). Her absence brings stunning clarity to my feelings for her, and these feelings have given verbal expression to things I wish I said far more often. (Thank you […]

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