Tag Archives: wounds

Hurt versus Harm

No one wants to experience pain. And yet, life seems to be full of times of challenge and difficulty that cause discomfort, anxiety, and yes, pain. Everyday people come into my office because the pain they are experiencing has become more than they feel they can bear. Pain comes in so many different shapes, sizes, and forms. And most of us will do about anything possible to avoid pain. And indeed, there are some pains that must be avoided at all cost. Touching a hot stove is something I only need to do once! This kind of pain is harmful. It warns of danger, but it does nothing beyond that.


However, there is some pain that cannot be avoided so easily and serves a purpose beyond just warning. In fact, there is pain that is actually good for us. For example, sore muscles after lifting weights, burning lungs after a good run, or the discomfort experienced when rehabbing an injury. These situations hurt, but they are good for us. The short term pain results in long term gain. One of my favorite examples of this is concept is the dentist. Eating sugary foods, forgetting to brush, and skipping the floss might feel good for a while but results in cavities causing harm in the long run. Going to the dentist, on the other hand, often hurts, but it is goof for us by keeping our teeth healthy. Sometimes avoiding short term pain, like not going to the dentist, actually causes long term harm.

I avoided the dentist for 5 years. When a rotten tooth finally demanded I go to the dentist, I ended up needing six cavities filled and a tooth implant which required surgery. My dentist and I got to know each other very well! Since that time I’ve kept my regular appointments and have only needed one procedure in the last five years. Now I try to see my dentist at church more than at his office! Here’s the point: hurt is temporary, harm is permanent. Temporary hurt to achieve or maintain health is well worth it to avoid the long term harm. This is true of dentists, of exercise, of health in general. And it is certainly true of emotions as well.

Denial, blame shifting, stuffing, and other ways to avoid acknowledging and dealing with the emotional pain in our lives feels better than facing it head on, but it all too often causes much more harm in the long run. Dealing with emotional pain definitely hurts, but it is the only way to achieve emotional health. One of the truths that I hope and pray all of my clients are able to cling to in the midst of their deepest and darkest times is that the pain will not last forever and that emotional pain is not fatal not matter how overwhelming it may feel. Healing hurts. It just does. Whether it is the pain of working out to lose weight, the pain of a teeth cleaning, recovering after surgery, or facing an emotional wound.

So when life’s emotional wounds seem to big to bear, remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians. Paul, a man who endured more pain and suffering than most. He was whipped 5 times, beaten three times and stoned once. He was shipwrecked three times, run out of cities, homeless, without food, thrown in jail, and even rejected by his own people. Not to mention the “thorn” he prayed God would take from him that never was removed. Paul knew pain! And yet Paul writes these words, “We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 16-18)

2 corinthians

Temporary hurt in exchange for long term health is a great trade! Momentary troubles that give us eternal glory are well worth it! Yes, we need to avoid the things that harm us, but so often we fail to recognize that hurt is not harm and that harm is actually the result of avoiding hurt. Face the hurt. Deal directly with the pain. It is temporary, it will not overwhelm, and you will come out on the other side better for it.


A Toothache, Tylenol, and Wise Words from Mom

I recently saw a sign that read, “If at first you don’t succeed, try doing it the way your mom told you to in the first place.” This is so true! And my mom is the wisest person I know. (She just is, and if you think yours is wiser, well you’re just wrong. You can ask my brother and sister.)  And so in honor of Mother’s Day, I want to share a little of her wisdom with you:

So – a week ago I had a tooth pulled. It hurt! It’s a week later – it hurts worse than ever. Saturday was one of the first Saturdays in a very long time that I could “sleep in” but I was up, showered and ready for the day by 7:30 a.m. Why? It wasn’t because I was feeling particularly ambitious, but rather because I couldn’t sleep anyway due to a throbbing toothache. I had pain medication that kept it somewhat at bay. I had also tried icing my face and toothache drops, and Tylenol, but nothing seemed to help. By 2:30 on Monday I finally decided to call back to the oral surgeon for some much needed pain relief. So, back to Ames I went to find out I had “dry socket”. toothache
Pain is a really amazing invention. It’s our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong and in need of attention. But why is it so hard to call on the one that can help the most with the discomfort we are experiencing?

This whole episode sort of reminds me of how we deal with pain and difficulties in our daily lives. We struggle and struggle and try to ease the pain or fix the problem on our own. All the while, God is waiting with open arms for us to run to Him. He is the one we should seek. He is the one that can bring healing. He is where we will find comfort and rest. For my toothache, I needed to seek help from the surgeon, but for the difficulties I face as I live out my life – I need to run to God and He will wrap me in His arms and give me comfort and healing and satisfy all my needs.


The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

Until next time, may you find comfort and joy in Him even in the times of trial and pain.
Be blessed!
Judy Cleveland

Not only is my mom full of wise words, but she’s also tough as nails. (I spoke to her several times during this incident and she never said a word about the pain.) Her experience with pain and delay in calling the doctor got me thinking about how I handle my own hurts. Why is it that at times I’m so hesitant to let God know about my pain? When He’s the ultimate healer and source of all comfort, why do I resist letting Him into the wounded areas of my life? Is it pride? Is it fear? Is it stubbornness? Is it lack of trust that He’ll meet me in the hurt? Is it that I’m blaming Him for the pain? Do I question if He really cares?

I don’t need to wonder, Scripture is clear that as a loving father, God does care and does want to comfort. God just doesn’t always provide the answer or the comfort in the way I want Him to. Here’s the rest of the story. After a trip back to the doctor, my mom was told that her tooth was healing, but was simply going to hurt through the healing process. She was comforted to know there wasn’t any additional problems, but the pain remains. Sometimes God doesn’t comfort by taking away the pain, but by assuring us that it will get better in time. Really, that’s what good parents do. They don’t always take the pain away from their children, at least mine didn’t! And it is in those moments that I find I grow, become stronger, and mature the most. And as His beloved child, God wants what is best for me, even if it means experiencing some pain! And He wants to walk with me through the painful times. I need trust Him with my pain and receive His comfort, even if it isn’t the kind of comfort I want!

Healing Hurts


I spent nearly every summer of my youth on a softball diamond. Sports, especially softball, is a wonderful teacher of life lessons. I learned about teamwork, respect, the power of believing in yourself, winning, losing, hard work, humility, sacrifice, and pain. Yes, I learned a lot about pain! Most people are “playing hurt” by the end of the season, but I also witnessed my fair share of season ending injuries.

One such injury happened on an otherwise routine play at the plate. I was playing first base and my friend, Megan, was pitching. After a wild pitch, Megan ran to cover home plate in an attempt to prevent the runner at third, now charging down the line, from scoring. Unfortunately, she set her feet incorrectly and as the runner slid into home, instead of sliding between Megan’s feet, she slid right UP Megan’s right leg, now blocking the way to the plate. Playing first base meant I had rotated to the pitcher’s mound and had a front row view of the metal cleat slicing through Megan’s uniform and driving up her calf. However, the strangest thing happened. This gruesome injury didn’t bleed! Not one drop hit the ground or shown through onto her white uniform pants. It seemed that as the runner slid into Megan’s leg, her body drug an abundance of dirt with her than packed the fresh wound.


Gross, I know… but there are many lessons about healing emotionally in this story. When emotional wounds happen, there are three main ways we can respond. One, we can stuff the pain and pretend everything is fine. Like the dirt that filled my friend’s wound, we stuff the wound with busyness, alcohol use, good grades, or anything else we can think of to try to stop the bleeding. And it does stop the bleeding, but it doesn’t lead to healing. Eventually the dirt needs to be cleaned out for the wound to truly heal.

Sometimes we get stuck in the hurt and believe that everything is wrong. We take on a victim mentality and are no longer able to see anything good happening in life. Like a child with a cut, we want everyone to see our injury, but we don’t trust anyone to touch it. Our wound becomes our identity and does get people to tend to and care for us, but again, the wound does not heal.

There is a healthy response. We can share the hurt with God and with others. There are four steps to sharing our pain. First, name the pain. When Jesus passed by, those in need of healing cried out over the bustling crowd to get Jesus’ attention. They were often scoffed at and told to be quiet, but they were desperate and yelled all the louder. They acknowledged that they had pain and that they needed healing.imagesCA2XBI6S

Second, acknowledge Jesus is the only place to received true healing. Before performing a miracle, Jesus often asked the person, “What do you want?” What a strange question! Certainly Jesus knows that a blind man wants to see or a lame person wants to walk! Jesus wanted the person in need of healing to acknowledge that he alone is the source of true healing. When we are in pain, we don’t just need healing, we need Jesus.

Third, receive Jesus’ healing touch. In 21 of 34 recorded miracles, Jesus touches the person he heals. Allow Jesus to draw close enough to your woundedness and pain that he can touch you. Give him access to the darkest, deepest and most painful parts of the wound. Allow his loving and gentle touch to bring a kind of healing that you could never imagine.

Finally, share the comfort you have received with others still hurting. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all compassion and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

This is no easy process. Healing hurts. We know and accept this when it applies to physical wounds. Everyone has experienced the sting of cleaning out a wound and know that it typically hurts worse than getting the wound in the first place. Anyone who has had surgery knows that recovery hurts worse than the injury itself. Physical therapy is often slow and painful. But there is healing in the hurt. Emotional wounds are no different. They need to be cleaned out and bandaged and tended to in order to heal properly. Yes, healing hurts, but it also makes us stronger and draws us closer to God. My prayer is that during this Lenten season, you will find the strength to share your wounds with Jesus, the provider of true healing. It may hurt, but the hurt is worth it.