Day 7: I choose to learn from PAIN
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world”- C.S. Lewis
Pain is a powerful teacher. Without physical pain, some common injuries/illnesses could be fatal, but because of the gift of pain we know that there is something that needs to be attended to. Pain demands a response. It can’t be ignored for long. It reminds you that action is necessary. But first you have to feel it to know which direction it wants you to go.
I learned this profound lesson in childbirth. All three of my births taught me different things. I have written about all three and the lessons I learned, but it was the birth of my third child that was the most transformative in terms of understanding myself and the intricate design of childbirth. By my third birth I was no longer afraid of the pain. ( I had proof- my other two children- that I would survive) I was prepared to listen to my body and deliver Amera in my bedroom surrounded by family and friends (and a midwife!)
When contractions started, I danced with Keenan. My body told me to sway back and forth and leaning on him helped take some pressure off. Every time I felt a sensation of discomfort I responded. Asking it what it wanted of me. It amazed me how clearly I understood what my body was trying to tell me. Each contraction communicated a different message.
Rock back and forth.
It was a dance that I welcomed and surrendered to. When the pain intensified (quickly) I craved the relief of the water. Relief came.
Near the end I wondered if I could go on. “How much more can I take?” I thought. I turned around in the birthing tub onto all fours. This can’t be the way she is coming into the world? Shouldn’t I be laying flat like in the movies? (the worst position to be in while giving birth.) This isn’t very ladylike! But that is exactly what my body told me to do. I braced myself on the edge of the tub, my head hanging over into Keenan’s arms. I took a deep breath.
With little effort and zero sound, I pushed Amera into the water and out into the world. For a brief moment, only she and I knew she had arrived. The pain was over.
The discomfort of labor was purposeful. It encouraged me to make a move. To change something.
If I had numbed the pain I would have had a different experience. I may have delivered (at the suggestion of someone) flat on my back. This might have made my labor longer and the trauma to my body greater. If I wasn’t able to feel the pain, I wouldn’t have known how to listen to it. And I wouldn’t have received the gift of the experience. I would have missed the dance. With Keenan and with my baby as my body synchronized with hers to aid her exit.
Pain cannot be ignored. If you listen, pain will tell you the next step to take. If you lean into the discomfort you just might give birth to your own NEW life.
But there is risk in feeling your pain and that is: It will hurt.
Pain demands attention. Ignored pain, numbed pain, could cause a much bigger problem down the road. More hurt potentially.
Emotional & spiritual pain, which can manifest as mental illness can be a life-saving signal that something needs to be corrected.
Anxiety is a signal. For me, it was a gift in disguise to finally acknowledge what had not been working in my life. What didn’t serve me. What I had over-committed to. To give me a chance to course correct.
Depression is a signal. If you feel hopeless, maybe you have neglected your spirit. Maybe there is a childhood wound that needs to be healed. Or maybe the things you loved to do as a child have disappeared and your soul is crying out to be nourished.
(This is not an anti-medication post. I am thankful for modern medicine and I know there are times when medical intervention are necessary. I have needed medication in the not so distant past, but I also acknowledge that it was numbing my brain-not helping at the source of my problem. I did the work at the source.)
Now when I am faced with pain, discomfort, depression or anxiety, I ask questions. What is it you want to teach me? How can I move with you to get to the other side of this?
What new thing is trying to make it’s way out?
Painful experiences are often times better teachers than joyful ones. I will lean in. I will let it guide me.
I choose to learn from pain.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”- Jesus