Big Feelings- How to Process Pain

Big Feelings- How to Process Pain

I recall those dreaded words, “Go to your room.” My actions were punishable but now I was experiencing shame, isolation and fear. I remember at the boarding school where I was raised being sent to bed without dinner or sitting in the corner with my nose pressed against the wall. How I hated these times. I recall the trauma of these punishments.

We often fail to experience the presence of God while in pain. Why does God feel so far away or even absent? We pray but the darkness overwhelms us. 

So how do we reconnect with God when we feel alone? Our enemy loves to isolate us. A very wise mentor of mine, Edie Melson, says, “Our enemy knows if he can isolate us from our God and others, he can cripple us with his deception.”

Instead of withdrawing we recognize our need for community. We stay relational by moving towards others and not withdrawing. We connect with God by remembering times when we sensed His presence in the past. We recall His blessings and give thanks. We pay attention to how our bodies feel in the “appreciation moment”. These actions deny our enemy any influence over us.

So much wisdom can be found in Joyful Journey, Listening to Immanuel. Dr. Jim Wilder says, any life event that leaves us feeling alone without help can be a traumatic experience. He explains, it’s not only the intensity of the event but it is the feeling that we are alone that traumatizes us. Dr. Wilder says, “If painful life experiences in the past were not consistently comforted it will be difficult to feel we are not alone in the present.”

Hebrews 13:5b For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Dr. Lehman in his book, Outsmarting Yourself, says as our brains process pain, they actually look to see if “someone is glad to be with us during our times of suffering”. He explains before we can heal from past wounds we must first “metabolize the pain”.

Dr. Warner in his book Rare Leadership discusses BEEPS that we develop to help us cope with unresolved pain. Many of us turn to behaviors, experiences, emotions, events, people and substances to numb the pain. We have all experienced the devastating effects these addictions can have in our lives and those we love. 

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy-laden for I will give you rest.

Chris Coursey in Transforming Fellowship, 19 Brain Skills that Build Joyful Community says, “Returning to joy does not mean removing the problem; rather we stay relationally connected with one another while we quiet our big feelings in the midst of the problem.”

Looking behind me, I saw the flashing lights. I glanced at my speed. Knowing I had exceeded the limit I succumbed to the ticket handed me. One day later I comforted a friend who was experiencing deep grief. Her friend and housemate went out on a bike ride Saturday morning and never return. She had just received the news that her friend was the victim of a fatal hit and run accident. 

The following day I’m alone feeling intense pain for all involved. Wishing I could do more for my friend who is alone as her housemates’ family arrived in disbelief and grief. I begin to experience overwhelming emotions. I feel isolated and helpless. Recognizing my need to quiet I float in our pool and enjoy the healing rays of the sun.  Remembering the speeding ticket, I smile at the story it will create. I pray for my friend recalling the fun times we share together. I thanked God that He is with her during this time of loss and grief. I noticed how my body feels. I am aware of God’s presence.

I’d love to hear how you were able to find peace in the midst of “big fellings” this week. What tools do you use to stay connect with God and others?

2 thoughts on “Big Feelings- How to Process Pain

  1. A couple weeks ago while Jack and I were on vacation I was dealing with emotion about a difficult situation. Then we attended a classical concert at a lovely old church. As I listened to the calming music and enjoyed the beautiful artistry of the church I used that time to pray and really feel the presence of God. It helped me so much to focus on Him and not my emotions. The calmness has stayed with me!

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