August 14, 2020

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Confronting pain allows God to work magic in our lives

Kimberly PohoveyPain, by definition, is a complex experience consisting of a physiological and psychological response to a harmful stimulus. It is a warning mechanism that protects an individual by influencing him or her to withdraw from the harmful stimuli or threat of injury. But sometimes, pain is a good thing.

I have hereditary arthritis and back issues, so a year or so ago, I began making monthly therapeutic massage appointments to stave off the pain. I take the time to pray during a massage. During my most recent appointment, I couldn’t help but think of the parallels between my massage experience and the way God works in my life.

During every visit, my therapist says she first needs to work on the knots in my neck and back. She hones in on a particular area and kneads it until the knot loosens.

At first, it is painful. As it loosens, it feels more like a bruised area, eventually giving out to a feeling of relief.

As I pray, I think about how I experience pain or struggles in my life. I believe God allows me to experience pain as a means of working out a difficult situation. He kneads me until I recognize and address the pain. As I begin to work out a difficulty, he lessens the pain to a more manageable bruised feeling—still uncomfortable, but part of the healing process. As I find a resolution, I experience relief.

Truth be told, I don’t always want to work on the more painful bits of my life even when I know it will be good for me. I think about this while, during my massage, I tense up as the therapist persists in an area of my back that is particularly tight.

At first, I don’t even realize I’m tensing. I tend to tense up as a result of stress or a response to pain. I liken this to fighting God and his will for me. If I don’t relax, all the massaging in the world will do me no good.

Over and over throughout the massage, I must tell myself I need to take deep breathes and relax so that the therapist can work her magic. Similarly, I often need to remind myself of the need to do the same in my life—take deep breathes, relax and let God work his magic.

When I rise from a massage, I feel optimally pain free, tranquil and even a bit heady—not necessarily dizzy, just sort of swimming in the overwhelming sense of relief. It’s the same when I resolve some sort of difficult situation in my life. While I initially dread facing an issue, I am awash with relief once I let God help me work it out.

Once a month, I lie on a massage table and let my therapist take control. I pray that God helps me recognize the need to allow him to work out the tough parts of my life—to at least come to his table once a week and surrender to his control.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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