“No Wonder You Were In Pain”

Tom Hanks with toothache

I had dental surgery yesterday and upon checking out the situation, my dentist said, “No wonder you were in pain.

I love it when this happens because I feel like I’ve proven myself to be A Pain Hero. Yeah, I gave birth to three humans. Yeah, I broke my tailbone (twice) and didn’t cry. Yeah, I broke three bones in my foot  – and I cried but not hard.

This kind of talk makes it sounds like feeling pangs of pain is to be avoided when actually feeling pain is an important part of life.  It’s impossible to be an authentic pastor when we:

  1. Pretend like you can’t hurt us even when you tell us our sermons suck or our bedside manner is awkward or something even worse.
  2. Say that we know how you feel when we totally do not.  I have never lost a child or a spouse or a sibling.  I don’t know how that feels (thank God) and even though I’ve indeed lost parents and friends and dogs, your loss is not my loss.  Maybe you didn’t like your parents.  Different situation.
  3. Do not acknowledge our own brokenness.  (Not a newsflash:  I can be a hot mess sometimes.)
  4. Hate it when other people are happy.  Every congregation has people who aspire for something that someone else has (true love, a child, health, a nice home, friends.)  It’s okay for others to be happy. We can be happy too, but everybody’s path is different.

Feeling It is important. It makes us know we are alive.  It connects us to God who also has felt it. (Hello Jesus.) The God I believe in knows what it’s like to be betrayed, to be unjustly accused, to be lonely. The incarnation of God means everything.

Paying attention to pain might even save our lives. (It saved my tooth.)

Image of the Tom Hanks character removing his tooth with an ice skate blade in Castaway.

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