FARGO — Ignoring the pain, minimizing the pain, overcompensating for the pain, internalizing the pain, and medicating the pain are commonly implemented and universally unhelpful. So, here are five helpful steps to process our pain. These are great steps to teach our children and grand-children. If we can help our children learn them as they are growing up, they can process pain much healthier throughout their adult lives.
Step No. 1 is to express the shock and pain. Don’t be afraid to say, "Ouch! Wowza, that stinkin’ hurts!" All pain needs to be expressed in healthy ways. Tears are normal and they are OK. We have to grieve our pain. Don’t ever stop your child from crying if they are genuinely hurt. Provide them comfort. Let them cry and express their pain. When you tell a child not to cry, you are squelching their normal response and pushing them into the abnormal.
Step No. 2 is to feel the anger and sadness. Anger is the correct secondary response to pain. Let your children experience their anger and sadness. Teach them how to talk about anger and sadness. Teach them healthy ways to express their anger and sadness. My mom taught me to yell into and hit my pillow. It’s much better than punching a wall or hitting someone. You won’t end up with a broken hand or a jail sentence. I recently saw a baseball player yell into his glove as he exited the game and I decided to start wearing a baseball glove while I watch my favorite team play so I have a healthy way to process the pain they cause me.
Step No. 3 is to receive comfort from others and pray for the comfort of Jesus. Open the Bible and receive the promises from God. Go to Jesus in prayer; write out your prayer; speak it out loud. Jesus is the only one who can ultimately comfort us the best. He is a friend like no other. He can relate to our pain. He is on call 24/7.
Step No. 4 is to put the situation in the scarred hands of Jesus. After processing the pain and anger and receiving hope and comfort from Jesus, it is vital that you put the hurt, the memory, the pain in the scarred hands of Jesus…that’s called forgiveness. Forgiveness is a journey that requires hard work and being intentional. You don’t accidentally forgive the person who hurt you. But you release your “right” to judge and decide the outcome. That is God’s job. Your job is to forgive; to release them and the pain and transfer them over to Jesus.
Step No. 5 is to capture the teachable moment. With children, this is your chance to teach them healthy boundaries, words and actions. Use the experience to teach them why people act the way they do. If you were hurt or abused, after you have taken the first four steps you are ready to re-visit the scene of pain with the love and guidance of Jesus. What can you learn from this horrific pain? What can you learn about yourself? Where can you see God at work? How can God use this pain to bring good into your life and the lives of others?
God bless you. See you next Sunday!
Hauser is the founding and senior pastor at Prairie Heights Community Church in Fargo-Moorhead and can be reached at www.jonhauser.com