Avoid pain or grow

Image: Abe's Daily Snap

Image: Abe’s Daily Snap

At a conference over the weekend, a speaker mentioned that people at the gym don’t complain about pain.  They don’t complain about their muscles hurting or sweating.  They expect it . It’s worth it, because they want to become a different person.

As simple as that is, it’s profound if you apply if to our lives, especially our relationships.

We set our lives up to avoid pain.  At least  I do.  I’ve learned to put up walls of prepare to defend when I know pain is coming.  I’ve learned to take alternate routes, physically and emotionally to avoid pain.

One day over the summer, I took the boys to Chick-Fil-A between camps.  The plan was to eat in the car as we rushed to our next camp.  I set them up with their nuggets with BBQ sauce nestled in the sides of the box and off we went.   I took a short cut on a back road I don’t usually take (to avoid the pain of traffic on the highway).  As we were cruising along, we suddenly hit a giant dip in the road that I did not see coming.

Barbeque sauce, chicken nuggets, and red High-C fruit punch went flying through the air.

I pulled the car over to assess the damage and it was as bad as you’re imagining.  The floorboard was a sea of red, gooey barbecue sauce was dripping from the ceiling, and the boys were crying.  Scared and upset.  Ughh.  I stood there sweating, in the hot Texas summer sun, using baby wipe after baby wipe to get the car and the kids back to a driveable situation.

It was painful.

Needless to say, I don’t drive full speed over that crazy dip anymore, even though the boys beg me too! 😉 I’ve learned to avoid it.  Or to drive slow enough that it doesn’t cause pain.

I also do it in my marriage, in my friendships, with my kids and even with myself.  If there’s a situation in a relationship that I expect to cause pain, I avoid it.

I’m supposed to be working on a letter for therapy that’s painful to write.  I’m about halfway through and I’m avoiding it like the plague.  I’m always too busy.  There’s never enough time to sit down and let all that emotion out.  I don’t want to go there anyway.  Can’t I just focus on the good stuff and do more of that?  Sure, I can.

I can avoid the pain and be lonely and isolated OR I can use it to help me grow in my relationships.

The best part is, instead of avoiding the pain, I can expect it and plan for it.  Just like the people at the gym.  I can practice the words I need to say and remind myself to breathe.  When I see the pain coming, I can pay attention, slow down, take a deep breath and keep going.   That’s the only way to grow through it.

I want to become a different person, so I’m really working on not avoiding pain in my life. 

What about you?

Are you avoiding painful conversations, painful work, or painful relationships?

Maybe it’s time to start expecting it and planning for it.

to more love,


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