Protection of Pain


Another tendril in the ever-reaching privilege of pain. It started with one sore and bloody spot on your heart.

A wound, untended, glaring, raw.

Your beauty marred, a fatal flaw.

What good can come, this spreading ailment

As blood seeps out and down to deeper strands,

Threads of life, woven tight,

Till pain has stained it all.

I bet you hadn’t ever considered all the benefits of bleeding. In the physical realm, medically, we know there is a benefit to the rush of blood through a wound. Cleaning, scabbing over, protection, eventual, slow healing.

What if pain had a way of protecting your heart? I read a story recently in my Bible study by Beth Moore. She mentioned a friend of her daughter who heard that another friend had committed adultery and decided to abandon her marriage in favor of her lover. When the friend heard this story, she broke into uncontrollable sobbing. Vicariously, she experienced the pain of that family, the loneliness of the children and the betrayal of the spouse. It rent her heart.

“‘She cried over the thought that all of us have the potential of doing something that destructive. It scared her half to death.’ If that fear became a liquid shield against a wave of temptation, could it be appropriate?”

In my own life, I have shared here on many occasions that I battled anorexia for about 15 years. Once and while to this day, there is a gleam of temptation to go back: an excuse to begin distance running again and the appeal of being the thinnest of my peers, the awe or mis-guided admiration of friends when I express amazing self-control in my diet, the power trip of denying my need of anything and anyone.

But, then there’s the memory of pain, a liquid shield. My journals bear the wrinkles of dried tears when I was in the hospital. I easily remember the loneliness of refusing invitations to go out with friends. I remember the strangled protests in my mother’s eyes. I remember the painful agony of unrelenting thoughts about calories, exercise, weight, work and laziness. It was hell.

And therein lies my protection. Pain often keeps us from making the same mistake twice or from making the same mistake our friends and family make. Think of the adult child of an alcoholic. Not always, but often, they are more determined than ever to never become what they observed and bring that kind of pain into their new family.

What about you? What lesson have you learned while bent over the knees of pain? When you stood again, wobbly and tearful, were you resolute to never do anything that would put you in that position again?

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