“Most people have come to prefer certain of life’s experiences and deny and reject others, unaware of the value of the hidden things that may come wrapped in plain or even ugly paper. In avoiding all pain and seeking comfort at all cost, we may be left without intimacy or compassion; in rejecting change and risk we often cheat ourselves of the quest; in denying our suffering we may never know our strength or our greatness…
It is natural, even instinctive to prefer comfort to pain, the familiar to the unknown. But sometimes our instincts are not wise. Life usually offers us far more than our biases and preferences will allow us to have. Beyond comfort lie grace, mystery, and adventure.”
The above was penned by someone who knows what she’s talking about. Rachel Remen, MD is both physician and patient, having suffered from Crohn’s disease most of her life. While treating countless patients, and enduring her own physical and emotional pain, Doctor Remen has come to realize the importance of engaging the soul in the healing process. This, of course, is wise counsel not only in the medical profession, but in all of life, and not only in dealing with others, but in relation to ourselves as well.
Healing is not about mending what is broken or relieving what is painful, for this is more a matter of curing. Healing refers to identifying and moving beyond impediments to wholeness, growth, and achieving our potential as human beings; healing is a matter of being in touch with our soul, the presence of the divine in us.
“No pain, no gain” is an adage used by those engaged in strength training, where building muscle and increasing strength require going beyond what one can do comfortably. This statement is true not only physically, but also when growth is valued mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. It may be counter intuitive to go beyond comfort and familiarity in every dimension of life, but this is what is required if we are to experience healing.
“In rejecting change and risk we often cheat ourselves of the quest.” When we embrace life as a quest to connect with our soul rather than an accumulation of years during which we seek only to achieve goals of material, financial, and relational comfort and security, we may begin to sense a sacred restlessness. This is not necessarily an indication that we should make drastic changes like quitting our job or leaving home and family behind, but it is an invitation to open ourselves to the unknown.
Without realizing it, we spend every day walking on thin ice. Comfort, familiarity, and practicality can keep us from breaking through to an awareness of the “grace, mystery, and adventure” that lie just beneath the surface of the life we are living.