How deep does pain go?
The answer that comes to me is, as deep as we allow.
Please don’t stop reading yet.
Bear with me for a few minutes and hear me out.
I know there is a kind of pain that has an intensity far beyond anything we thought was imaginable. Whether it is physical, where the body is racked with enormous pain and limitations or emotional, where our heart is so broken it feels beyond repair. It could be mental or intellectual, where we can’t find answers to any of our dilemmas or spiritual, where we feel completely alone, distanced from any sense of love or caring.
There have been times when I’ve felt some of these brutal realities, not knowing whether things would ever get better. Certainly, for a while I could not see how it would be possible. There seemed to be no sunshine left. Maybe everyone has felt this way.
I don’t think you have to have lived into old age to know suffering. It seems to me to be sort of an ageless condition.
I’ve had many conversations with others about this. Every one of them ends in the same place, with one simple question…why?
Why is there so much pain and suffering?
No one I’ve spoken to feels they have the answer to this question. Sure, there are platitudes, but are they helpful? No one I know, including those who say them, seem to believe it.
So, the search for meaning goes on.
Once in a while someone tells me that pain and suffering is a punishment for the wrongs we’ve done. They often insert the word, ‘sin’ into the conversation. They tell me that (god) is so upset with our behavior that (he) has no choice but to condemn us and therefore, there we feel pain and endure suffering.
I don’t believe this. I never did, even as a child. You can not speak to me of a (god) who is everlasting love and always watches over me and cares for me and then add the ingredient of a (god) who sends me pain and suffering for being human.
Others I’ve talked with take a very direct approach to answering this question. They say, it is just a part of living on this earth and that it is a natural result of being here. This is also known as…’$#*% happens’.
Perhaps I’m unrealistic, but I think there’s more to it than that.
I want to go back to the statement I made at the beginning of this post. The answer that comes to me is, as deep as we allow. That’s how deep pain and suffering goes.
What I mean is this.
Imagine that you have a shovel in your hands. You aim it at the ground, step on the back and push your way into the earth. Once your shovel blade is full, you lift it up and set the dirt to the side. You now have a small hole in the ground. The hole is now how much pain there is in your life. It’s what you feel. The pain is relatively small, because the hole is small. You tell yourself you can deal with this.
But sometimes, the hole gets bigger and deeper and the amount of pain may exceed your ability to handle it. And sometimes the hole gets bigger still. You can’t imagine why, and you find it hard to see the bottom of the hole. The pain and suffering seem so deep.
I’ve lived through some deep holes. I think everyone has.
At some point I opened up inside and asked for help. I wanted to know what was at the bottom of the hole. I needed to know how deep it really was. So, I peered in and saw (god) at the bottom. And as I reached down, (god) reached up, until our hands met.
I realized that part of the pain and suffering was up to me. That I had something to do with how much I experienced. I was part of the equation. And I could ask for help and the pain and suffering would ease, if I allowed it to.
I know this is a hard answer to grasp. Do with it whatever feels right to you. I felt compelled to pass this along and I hope it helps someone.
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2 Replies to “How Deep Does Pain Go”
This post really reaches me. I have struggled with a lot of deep pain in my life. I haven’t share this with many people, but I share it here and now. There was a point in my life, many many years ago, when I seriously contemplated suicide because the pain was so deep. By the grace of (god) I found a website with a five minute read that helped change my perspective. The main point presented was “Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.” It gave me the strength to reach both deeper and wider for any extra coping mechanism I could find. The page itself has been updated as recently as Feb 2021, but there is a link on the page to the original. You can find that original page here: https://www.metanoia.org/suicide/original.htm.
Thank you so much for your brave sharing. I appreciate it very much. I’m so glad that you discovered the resource you needed at the time and that it shifted your perspective enough to stay with us. We are blessed that you are in our lives.
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