When you are hurting, pain will try to make itself the most important thing in your life.
You can’t let it.
When pain becomes the most important thing in our lives, we amplify it. And when we amplify it, it remains the most important thing, so we amplify it more. Soon enough, it controls and consumes us.
You need to put hurting in its place. Its small, temporary place.
Here are five ways to overcome pain before it overcomes you:
1. Jump into a different, compelling story. Don’t focus all your time and attention on overcoming the pain, but invest most of your energy in doing something important and meaningful. Did a girl break-up with you? Try going on a mission trip to a different country. Did your friends abandon you? Start volunteering with a cause you are passionate about. Make your life about a greater cause than overcoming pain, and you will more easily overcome the pain. For more on living a better story, check out this blog by Donald Miller.
2. Smile and laugh and listen to happy music. How you act dramatically affects how you feel. If you smile and laugh, you will start feeling happier. If you mope and frown, you will start feeling sadder. I know it might take some effort if you are hurting, but start by smiling when you speak. Put on some B.o.B. instead of William Fitzsimmons.
3. Listen to other perspectives. Other people can have a really good way of putting things in perspective, because they can understand the emotions and complexities of a situation without being entrapped by those same emotions and complexities. Find some trusted, honest people, and really listen to what they have to tell you. Take their words to heart. It will help take some of the burdens off your shoulders.
4. Memorize truth. Pain will lie to you. In order to overcome pain, you need to know truth, and be able to call the truth to your mind at a moment’s notice. When pain starts lying to me, I start reciting Isaiah 43 in my mind. Reciting the verses helps me remember that I am redeemed, loved, taken care of, and not alone. If pain is lying to you, find some truth, whether in the form of a quote or verse or saying, and memorize it. Fight the lies with truth.
5. Give yourself permission to feel. Pain takes time to heal. Sometimes, things require a long period of grieving when they are lost. And that is ok. You can allow pain some room, without letting it overcome you. That is healthy and normal and good. It’s ok to feel hurt. It’s ok to feel regretful. It’s ok to feel happy when you should feel sad. In order to overcome pain, there needs to be a time when you get your hands dirty and deal with it. But first, you need to know what you are fighting against. So give yourself permission to feel and experience all kinds of emotions, and fight the ones that shouldn’t be there. For more on this, here is a great blog from To Write Love On Her Arms.
I realize that pain is complex. And it is messy. And it rarely ever makes sense. And a lot of people experience it differently than others. Overcoming pain takes work, and it takes courage, and sometimes it takes a little creativity.
But work to overcome it.
Work to overcome it.
Work to overcome it.
And when you feel like you can’t work to overcome it anymore, that is ok, because Jesus is still working for you.