“What to do when we are hurting” was the topic of choice for our Pastor at church this past Sunday. The week before last he asked the church body to raise their hand during prayer if their hearts are heavy and hurting and he was overwhelmed by the number of hands that were raised. This sermon came right on time for me, having just attended two funerals the day before.
It’s never easy to lose a loved one, but it’s also very challenging to witness the raw emotions of someone else who just lost a loved one. I was part of both sides on Saturday and felt emotionally drained sitting in church on Sunday.
My pastor rounded out the end of the service with a practical list of things to do when your hurting. I love that he makes Jesus tangible and healing actionable. As he neared the end of his list, I realized that his list of things to do when you are hurting spiritually are the same things I tell my patients to do when they are hurting physically.
Physical pain can affect you spiritually, just as spiritual pain can affect you physically. I believe that is why my list was so similar to my pastor’s. The good news with this is that when you address your physical pain, it can lift your spirits and improve your spiritual life. And, the opposite is true. When you address your spiritual hurt, you can release tension and pain in your body and improve yourself physically.
Here are the four things that my pastor outlined to do when we are hurting spiritually viewed from a physical hurt perspective:
- Hold on. Mostly, to hope. Hope that things will get better. Pray for healing, for a clear perspective, for understanding or maybe just acceptance of your current state or situation. Hold on to the person you want to be, the things you want to do, and the life you want to lead. But, modify.
- Approach confidently. To me, this means that when you begin to notice that pain is affecting your daily life, seek help. That includes asking for prayers from family, doctor recommendations from friends, and a physical therapy script from the doctor (if appropriate :D). It’s hard to proceed confidently into a situation when you are alone, in the dark. Find someone who can shed some light on the situation and some hope for the future. You’ll need it for number one. I also believe that when you do decide on a path, believe it is going to work!
- Embrace Grace. Give yourself the same understanding that you would to a family or friend in the same situation. Refrain from bad-mouthing your body or your new limitations. The best way to do this is to focus on what you can still do and then, do that. Putting yourself down leads to self-destruction and more limitations from the walls you unknowingly put up. Frustrations almost always accompany hurt so do your best to ease the aggravations with a shift of perspective from what is hurting to what isn’t. Our brain is wired to focus on the pain because if it does, eventually you will do something about it! When you do something, you’ll need to actively help your brain change its focus.
- Find what you need. Be your biggest advocate. Create a community around you that is meeting your needs. Explore new things if your old ways aren’t working. If a medicine isn’t working or isn’t what you want, ask for physical therapy or go see an acupuncturist. If you try a new workout class, ask for modifications if you think something will (or is) causing pain. Speak up, find your voice.
Healing takes time, but it also takes action <3