Sunday, January 10, 2016

How the Pain of Grief in Loss Sparks the Capacity to Bear Pain

LOSS brings with it the slowing of time.
It’s not that time itself slows down, for that would be an impossibility, other than a God-anointed miracle, as occurred in Joshua 10.  In the grief outbound of loss, it’s our perception that time slows.
I recall some hours that seemed like days; some minutes, yes, sixty times their length.
Pain is a megaphone, as C.S. Lewis once remarked.  It climbs upon our consciousness, demanding a hearing.  It refuses to go unheeded.  We disregard it at our peril, yet when we regard it, it swamps us like a tsunami.  Pain seems to abuse our perception of time by flooding our emotions with high-decibel action that consumes our awareness.  And such pain works in a variety of mediums: depression, anxiety, confusion, profusion, feeling overwhelmed, hypervigilance, sometimes all or many at once.
The grief in loss intensifies the moments of months that ensue.  And if each second were a moment, where three quarters we were awake for, we would have hundreds of thousands, into the millions, of those to bear before pain would abate.  And if many or each of these separate moments feels slower than normal, pain will be a companion for some time yet.
But it’s not all bad news.  One significant grief well-suffered is one significant step to enduring the next significant grief well.  So we might consider there is a reward (or at least some compensation) for having endured pain bigger and worse than we could have imagined.
The pain of grief that is endured without running away is the catalyst for bearing reality we previously didn’t have.  Such a pain has woven into its purpose the divine construction of our capacity to bear.
If only we can believe in faith that, in our initial horrendous pain, we’re sowing up for ourselves an eternal reward of glory, even in this very life.
Pain we experience head on teaches us the capacity of forbearance.  We don’t know how it links, but we do know that that is what takes place.  Once we learn that there is a pain that far exceeds our previous perception of pain we begin to acknowledge that we’re not in control; that God is, and that pain may be wrought in our lives anytime.
For all the pain in pain there’s also this blessing: only pain endured can teach us how and why pain can be endured in the first place: it’s the capacity to bear future pain.
Enduring pain teaches that pain endured builds the capacity to endure pain.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.

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