Change, pain and growth…

I really love this picture!  I know it is primarily politically orientated, but like most things which are true, it has almost universal application.  For me, it spotlights my tendency to appease the problems in my life with coins rather than real change.  Genuine change means I have to face the problem head on, it means I need to go through a process of legitimate suffering and often mourning. These processes are painful and I hate pain. I avoid pain at almost any cost. Physical pain, emotional pain or spiritual pain…I hate pain***. I know this is simply part of the human condition and something that everyone faces. In the right context it is an extremely important quality we have: “touch a hot stove–>Pain–>REMOVE HAND!”…but in other situations this wonderful attribute stunts our growth. Sometimes we have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death before we get to the green pastures (Psalm 23).

*** Aside: I’m really big into psychology at the moment…and it’s really helping me to understand so much more about myself and others…for example, I wrote the previous sentence about my tendency to appease personal problems with coins rather than genuine change, using ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. This may seem like a small thing or that I’m being pedantic by even identifying this, but it is actually very indicative of a problem that I have. By identifying myself with others who have similar problems {or more accurately attributing my problems to others as well} it feels more acceptable, less ‘wrong’ and less urgent to face the issue at hand…I need to accept personal responsibility for my problems and stop seeing myself as part of a crowd of people – personal responsibility for our present state of being is a hallmark of mental health and maturity…I will try to use ‘I’ and not ‘we’ and ‘me’ rather than ‘they’, when talking of my own problems

I know this truth, and have known it for a while, yet I still avoid the pain associated with growth and maturity. I throw a few coins to the wise man inside of me who is not asking for my coins but asking for real change. I can appease my conscience for a few more days, telling myself that I really care about my poverty and that I want to do something about it, but inside – in the recesses of my person I know I need to face it. To go into the cave and look at the monster and say “I see you. I see the size of you. I see you are ugly as sin. But more importantly I see that the hand of God is with me to defeat you. And I will defeat you”.

This reminds me of the lions in the Pilgrim’s Progress. Read below:

“So I saw in my dream that he made haste, and went forward, that if possible he might get lodging
there. Now before he had gone far, he entered into a very narrow passage, which was about a furlong
off the Porter’s lodge, and looking very narrowly before him as he went, he espied two lions in the
way. Now, thought he, I see the dangers that Mistrust and Timorous were driven back by. (The
lions were chained, but he saw not the chains.) Then he was afraid, and thought also himself to go
back after them; for he thought nothing but death was before him. But the Porter at the lodge, whose
name is Watchful, perceiving that Christian made a halt, as if he would go back, cried unto him,
saying, Is thy strength so small? Mark 4:40. Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed
there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none: keep in the midst of
the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.
Then I saw that he went on, trembling for fear of the lions, but taking good heed to the directions
of the Porter; he heard them roar, but they did him no harm.”

This willingness to face the problems in my life is not a once-for-all decision. Every day, in every challenge, whenever the Holy Spirit highlights the monster lurking in the dark corners of my life, I need to decide whether I will face it head-on and deal with it, or throw some coins at the problem.

Perhaps you also have some monsters in your life…lurking under that facade that has become so normal. Don’t throw some coins at the problem when God highlights issues in your life – face it with open eyes and unafraid – God is with you. And then we will say as David said to Goliath:

1 Samuel 17:45-48 (NIV)

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

“In the company of Jesus there are no experts, only beginners” – Jason Upton ‘Between the graveyard and the garden’

One response to “Change, pain and growth…

  1. You might lose me from time to time when anything relating to psychology (took me 5 tries to spell right), economics or politics gets posted, not because I don’t agree with it (well some of it I don’t but you know what I mean) – its just not a huge interest of mine. But I love your over-developed gray matter, it makes me happy.

    I will make two comments regarding your latest post:

    1) Self-discovery is a beautiful thing. I know believe that few things aid the process as much as what the 2 of us are currently going through. Relocating, no mates (you may have a few more than me), language, church etc etc – an entirely new frontier. Traveling and being taken from the aptly called “Comfort Zone” is a great thing. Enjoy the time, don’t ever despise it, even when it sucks.

    2) I hate pain as well and don’t think there is ever a Godly pain. Maybe a Godly time of perseverance through some trials etc, and I’m sure you agree. Pain in itself though, according to the following definition I don’t believe it from God or should be tolerated:

    1. An unpleasant sensation occurring in varying degrees of severity as a consequence of injury, disease, or emotional disorder.
    2. Suffering or distress.

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