Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No Pain, Gain

When faced with choices, I usually assume God's will is the choice that is the most difficult, unpleasant, or sugar-free. Sometimes this is the case -- it's easier to grow weeds than desirable plants, and building character and morals takes hard work. But I also find myself choosing or enduring suffering that is truly optional simply because I assume it's where God wants me.

I realized this recently when I was shown a chart that rates pain from 0 (no pain) to 10 (intense pain that prevents you from doing anything except suffer). The comments on the chart suggest that it is good to get help for pain when it's about a 3 or 4, i.e. while pain is bearable and doesn't affect you that much. What a revelation. I tend to think that I "should" soldier on through pain -- physical or emotional -- until I can't bear it any longer, and then get help.

I decided that this approach wasn't working well for me when I was in the midst of the PPD pit and a friend said, "You're so strong! If I'd been through what you have, I'd be in a mental institution." It occurred to me that whatever was making it possible for me to endure what I was enduring wasn't strength. I don't know what it was -- stubbornness? fatigue (I couldn't imagine what more to do)? fear (what if there really wasn't help for me)? Maybe just ignorance -- thinking that God wants me to patiently endure suffering, so I'd better patiently endure.

But we have a God who gives us an easy yoke and light burden. If Jesus died for me, then I don't have to do anything, not even suffer, to be ok with God. I used to think that taking antidepressants wasn't God's will for me (even if it was ok for other people!). Now I think that taking them helps me to know and do God's will, which is sometimes painful, and sometimes not.

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