How do you rate pain? Hospitals use a chart with various emojis and ask you to rate your pain on a scale from 1-10. This is the Universal Pain Assessment tool. But here’s the thing I never quite understood: how do I know what truly constitutes a 10? Let’s take my kids for example. They are wonderful little humans notorious for their theatrics and flare for the dramatic. Pretty sure they are each one minor finger-poke to the shoulder away from earning their EGOT award at any given moment. They literally have the same horror film scream, and blubbering tears routine whether they sit touching each others pinkies while on the couch or one of them cuts the other’s arm off with a light saber. Their reaction is the SAME!!! No pain assessment scale is needed. It is a 10. Every. Stinkin’. Time. But in reality, can’t we all be like this? Pain is relative and until we experience a real full-blown tragedy, we’ve probably all mistakenly identified something as a 10 at one point.
I’ve recently gone through a change of seasons. I’m normally one to fly by the seat of my pants. I don’t plan a single day of my life out in advance so changing anything at a moment’s notice normally doesn’t even phase me. However, this particular change has been exceptionally difficult for me. It’s hard to write about because in so many ways I’m still in the thick of it all. I am still very much sitting in my grief and just trying to recover from things simply not going the way I expected. (Can I get an AMEN for all the unmet expectations we’re trying to recover from?!?). I had one particular day that felt harder for me than the rest. I literally could not do anything but cry. No matter what I did to distract myself, my eyes were determined to leak and my heart was desperate to feel. By the end of the day, I had a terrible headache and puffy eyes that no amount of tea bags would cure. As I was sharing this breakdown with a friend, I said “I feel so dumb. I have friends with spouses fighting cancer and a friend who just lost her daughter. There is so much going on in the lives of others around me that is so much worse than this. Texas has literally just experienced the worst natural disaster in U.S. history! Why am I even crying about this?” She said, “Your feelings are just as real to you as theirs are to them. And they ALL matter.” Listen, friend, comparing your real feelings to the feelings of another is the worst pain assessment tool you can use. It will lie to you every time.
I’m no expert and I certainly don’t have the market cornered when it comes to pain. I realize, much like my kiddos, I tend to be a tad dramatic. And my pain scale might be a bit skewed at times because life could and probably will get so much harder. But that truth doesn’t negate the pain I’m in right now. It is real. And it hurts. Jesus himself told us, “In this world you will have pain.” Even Jesus wept. It is inevitable. But how we cope and deal with the pain is what determines the amount of freedom and peace we find at the end of it. Some of us may try to avoid our feelings. No one actually WANTS to experience pain. But there is purpose in our pain if we let it. It allows something new to be birthed in us. “I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:9 (NCV) It is through our sufferings we birth perseverance. Out of perseverance, we birth our character, and character births hope. It is in this hope that God can fill you with freedom and purpose. He will not take you where your character can’t sustain you. You are not alone in your pain, my friend. And every ounce of pain you feel matters. If it is real to you, it is real to Jesus. He is with you. He will restore you, strengthen you and give you a firm place to stand. He cares about every tear you’ve cried and He keeps record of them. (Psalm 56:8) Will you allow yourself to feel the pain today so something new and greater can be birthed in you?
About Becky Jones
Becky and her husband, Shane, and their two kids live North of Dallas. Becky is one of a kind (in the best way). When she is not writing, speaking, or leading at her local church she is getting her daughter to her next dance class or battling the next level in Star Wars with her son. Fun and laughs will come if you are around Becky for 5 seconds but make sure you stick around because she is a deep well with a passion for pursuing God's real heart for herself and others.