Consciously choosing any kind of suffering is something we all are faced with in some capacity in our lives, and many of us are loathe to endure it. With the start of Lent this week, people in the Christian tradition are beginning fasts of different kinds to help them, in some small way, identify with the frailty of human life. They are choosing to endure something painful in order to stretch a personal or spiritual muscle. When are you willing to do this? Steven Hayes says this in The Confidence Gap,
“There is no such thing as a pain-free life. But we do have some choice about the type of pain we experience. The pain of stagnation or the pain of growth.”
In therapy, people come for treatment because the pain of stagnation has become too great to bear, but sometimes they are still ambivalent about embracing the pain of growth. They just want the pain to stop!
I relate to this. I have to really be sick of my stagnation pain to want to actually do anything about it! There’s something very healthy about the liturgical calendar for just this reason. It builds in a rhythm that presses us to engage the suffering that we think might be good for us.
Where do you feel an invitation to move from the pain of stagnation to the pain of growth?