Life is a journey - this is mine.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pain

"Life is pain. Anyone who says different is selling something." That quote from the movie The Princess Bride has always stuck with me as something profound. I think an important life-skill we all must learn is how to suffer. Chip Ingram in his book Effective Parenting in a Defective World says that one of the key things we parents ought to be teaching our kids is to suffer well. To know that our suffering is a process that God uses to teach, discipline and grow His children. M. Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Traveled speaks of looking forward to the painful times in life because those dark times are periods of growth and we exit the other side a more complete, or perhaps more sane person.

Why, then, do we think that down times or periods of depression mean there is something wrong with us? Certainly there bouts of depression that are related to medical problems, and others that are debilitating. I'm not talking about that, I'm referring to the periods in our lives where we experience pain and suffering, and need to work past it.

Experiencing loss is probably the most common. Losing a job or a friend, a divorce, death of a loved one are pretty obvious. Not so obvious is transitioning through the phases of life. Moving from childhood to young adulthood, leaving the home, marriage, adulthood, middle age, senior citizen. Those transitions involve a realization that life is changing for us. Sometimes we cognitively realize this, embrace the change, and move through it. More often, though, we look back years later and only then understand we were going through a life transition.

So does going through a life transition, a time of obvious loss, or another period of change constitute the medical condition of depression? Put another way, are these times of pain intended, or anomalies to be treated?

The Bible is full of examples of people experiencing pain and suffering as part of growth. I think, therefore, that times of struggle are normal, good, and intended. I think Chip Ingram's take that we need to learn to suffer well is the wise approach.

My boss once told me that we always have many choices we can make, most of them good - we have to be careful to choose the best one. I'd modify that somewhat: we have many choices we can make, we need to look for the wisest one.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

Fortunately, I don't get depressed very often. It's easy for me to get caught up in the "way things should be" though. I am definitely guilty of living in my own little world and ignoring the pain and suffering around me. Sometimes I ask for a little struggle here or there just to get myself grounded again. I don't want to get too cocky and forget about those in God's kingdom who are suffering. I'm counting my blessings every single day. Great post. HUGS