My roommate’s foot is the size of a balloon. And not a deflated balloon.
He wobbled up the stairs the other night after his indoor soccer game and told me how a player on the opposing team mistook his foot for the ball. His foot caught the full force of the guy’s kick, and immediately he considered it broken. Fortunately, upon receiving an x-ray, he found out that his foot only suffered deep bruising and no fractures. Now, he was able to know how to accurately and effectively take care of his injury, because he knew the underlying cause of his pain. His pain motivated him to act and check out the problem. Once he did, he was able to adequately respond so the issue could heal. Through the healing of the underlying issue, the pain subsides.
Pain is not an experience anyone wants, but its value is undeniable. Pain is not the issue, its a symptom of the real issue. What an incredible bodily process of human beings. Our bodies speak to us through symptoms so we may address their causes. Physical signs we can sense direct us to an invisible thing.
The main symptom all people can relate to is pain. Whether its a simple pain in your chest suggesting heartburn or the pain in my roommate’s foot, its our bodies way of saying, “Hey, check this out! Something isn’t right here”. Our pain motivates us to check out what is going on in our bodies. We make doctor’s appointments, we have tests done, we get examined. All to try and locate the problem. Pain is reality communicating to us through our human nature.
Pain communicates a deeper reality. It is a sign pointing to the existence of something else. The pain of my roommate’s foot pointed towards the bruised bones which were causing him pain. Unfortunately, in our current culture we are obsessed with treating pain instead of the issue the pain is pointing to. We settle for anything to rid us of the pain. We want the instant relief. We take the “magic” pills, only to later realize that the problem persists. We treat the symptom because we don’t want pain, but we fail to listen to the message that the pain is delivering. We don’t perceive pain as valuable, so we kill it anyway we can. Therefore, we destroy an important line of communication between reality and ourselves.
The communicative value of pain is not limited to physical pain, but also extends to psychological pain. The particular psychological pain I am talking about is guilt. Guilt is a feeling of emotional distress that alerts us of the harm or potential harm of our actions. The human conscience speaks to us through guilt. Jiminy Cricket defines the conscience best in Pinocchio (1940), “What are a conscience! I’ll tell ya! A conscience is that still small voice people won’t listen to. That’s just the trouble with the world today”.
In a culture that does not want to admit there is a right or wrong and everything is relative, perhaps the guilt we experience contains value. Maybe reality is trying to tell us something. The guilt we feel after lying or stealing may be something worth listening to. Just like the bodily pain, the guilt is saying, “Hey, check this out! Something isn’t right here”. Reality is trying to speak to us so we may live in the beauty, goodness, and truthfulness of life. It knows that our lives are better when we step into a wholesome, good, healthy life.
Pain must be valued as a truthful form of communication. If we listen and respond appropriately, we come to know that it is trying to help us and not hurt us.