During the first trimester of my pregnancy with Nate I remember telling a friend, "Of course I'm getting an epidural! I don't need to be a hero - I mean, you'd get novocaine at the dentist right?" After a few childbirth prep classes I had changed my tune and decided to prepare some strategies for natural pain-management (although, for the record, I was not opposed to an epidural if that's what ended up being best for me and baby). Why the switch? My perspective changed because the classes tapped into a lesson I had learned years earlier as a swimmer with chronic over-use injuries: "good" pain = keep going, "bad" pain = stop. When I learned to approach the pain of labor as "good" pain, I could put to use the strategies I had developed as an athlete to keep myself in the zone, focused, and intent on reaching my goal.
[Disclaimer: Everyone's approach to childbirth is unique and everyone's labor & delivery is different -- NO judgment here whatsoever, just sharing my own experiences and perspective.]
Anyway, I'm wondering if a lot of our struggles as human beings can be traced back to this good pain/bad pain dichotomy. Aren't a lot of the messes we find ourselves in related to our inability to decipher between these two types of circumstances? Sometimes I experience pain in the form of frustration, opposition, confusion, apathy, etc and it makes me want to stop, when deep down I know I'm supposed to keep going. Other times I feel overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious, self-critical, etc but I don't give myself permission to stop, even though that's exactly what I need to do. If I could step back and evaluate whether I am facing a 'good pain: buckle down, grit your teeth, and stay in it' situation or a 'bad pain: stop, give yourself grace, and allow room for healing and recovery' situation, I'm guessing it would prove to be pretty helpful. No time like the present...
Today I need to keep going. The bad attitude I'm indulging does not qualify as bad pain, so its time to put one foot in front of the other, find reasons to be thankful (of which I have plenty), and keep doing what God is asking me to do. How about you? Do you need to stop or keep going today? (Or maybe both?)