Healing severe or chronic pain, I believe, includes transforming our relationship to the pain, and, ultimately, it is about transforming our relationship to who we are and to life.
Tell me, what kind of functions does pain have when one is convicted to 100 whippings in Saudie Arabia? You claim pain has a function, I claim that's scientific rubbish. The only thing pain really does is cause an instant reaction that is not rational and usually quite erratic. The famous example of the hand in boiling water, for example. You say it proves pain has a function. But exactly because of the spasmic reaction lots and lots of people will drop the bowl with boiling water over their entire bodies causing serious burns. So what was the 'function' of this pain? Pain and fear cause confusion and trauma. If pain actually did have a rational function, chronic pain would not exist.
You would like to know how I behave when I am experiencing pain, not writing books about it. You need not guess, for I will tell you; I am a great coward... If I knew any way of escape I would crawl through sewers to find it. But what is the good of telling you about my feelings? You know them already; they are the same as yours. I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. That is what the word means. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine of being made 'perfect through suffering' is not incredible. To prove it palatable is beyond my design.
Fire is easy to work with if you keep your mind clear, but pain . . . pain fights back. Pain is alive. Pain is the enemy.
Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say 'My tooth is aching' than to say 'My heart is broken'. Yet if the cause is accepted and faced, the conflict will strengthen and purify the character and in time the pain will usually pass. Sometimes, however, it persists and the effect is devastating; if the cause is not faced or not recognised, it produces the dreary state of the chronic neurotic. But some by heroism overcome even chronic mental pain. They often produce brilliant work and strengthen, harden, and sharpen their characters till they become like tempered steel.
Problem is, though, sooner or later, physical pain, it's... it's manageable. See, real pain is emotional pain. That is the kind of pain that lasts.
The cure for pain is in the pain.
Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.
If you can sit with your pain, listen to your pain and respect your pain — in time you will move through your pain.
In a sense, [Christianity] creates, rather than solves, the problem of pain, for pain would be no problem unless, side by side with our daily experience of this painful world, we had received what we think a good assurance that ultimate reality is righteous and loving.