“Every email she writes, every conversation always begins with some trouble or difficulty, some illness that’s plaguing her, some suffering in her children, some pain wracking a relative or loved one.”
The woman talking to me was describing a friend. “I think if I called her attention to it—if I showed her the emails, she would say, ‘That’s just my life, and if you can’t understand that, then I guess you’re not much of a friend.’”
It is very easy to love our pain, and to want more of it. Pain and suffering are powerful energies. When you are experiencing pain you know you are alive! You are feeling something. You are not listless or numb.
And it gives you something to do. Something to take care of or fix. Someone to blame.
The little, egoic self that lives within each of us needs to create pain, trouble and drama in order to keep our God-self distracted and preoccupied. It loves to make a mess (self-sabotage) and then get you to spend all day cleaning it up, so that your mind is not open and available to the grace of God that is all around you.
Eckhart Tolle called this the “pain-body.” It’s what happens when we identify with our pain so much that it comes to define our being. Of course it is a false identification, a false definition because in our hearts we are the daughters and sons of God, redeemed, healed and whole.
Jesus knew this dynamic well. When he meets people who are suffering, he often asks, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6). We might wonder why a healer like Jesus would bother to ask such a question before removing someone’s pain. Until we remember that sometimes we latch onto our suffering and don’t really want to let it go.
Sometimes in the middle of the day I realize that I am talking to myself—if not aloud—worrying some problem like a dog with a bone. I have to stop and tell myself—aloud—to let this go. Now. I have to remind myself explicitly that God is greater than all the trouble I can cook up, and that in this moment I have all that I need to be joyful.