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There Are Two Kinds of Pain
Medical school didn’t prepare this anaesthesiologist for what he encountered in his general practice with patients who visited his office. 

I’ve been asked many times, “How did you get so involved in the treatment of feelings and emotions?” You see I was never interested in mental health as I was growing up. I just wasn’t the kind of boy that said “Mommy, I want to be a psychiatrist when I grow up.”

…anaesthesia is the most godly of all medical specialties. I can prove it to you.

When I graduated from medical school I didn’t have the slightest interest in psychiatry or mental health. I actually became an anaesthesiologist. People couldn’t understand why I went into that specialty. Anaesthesia had no status – no TV program of its own. They even called us sleep doctors. That didn’t sound very exciting to most people.

You probably don’t realize that anaesthesia is the most godly of all medical specialties. I can prove it to you. In Genesis, what was God’s first medical act? He put Adam to sleep. That sounds pretty important to me. It was to Adam.

I liked anaesthesia because it was the perfect “guy” specialty. There were lots of machines, knobs, dials and gadgets. It was really technical. It gave me a sense of control over other people, which was perfect for a control freak like me. The patients did what they were told immediately. If I said, You are going to sleep in ten seconds, they always did, with no arguments. I didn’t even have to talk or listen to them.

The problem for me though, was that I was only in the operating room in the mornings. I had to do general practice in the afternoon. There is a big difference going from the OR to the GP’s office. In the afternoons I had to talk and listen to people. I had no control over their behavior and no one did what they were told.

One of the greatest surprises that I learned from my general practice patients was that there were two kinds of pain. I had been well trained in how to treat physical pain but no one had told me that there was another kind of pain. Emotional pain.

Which pain do you think is more severe? Well, just think back to the most painful moment of your life, but don’t stay there too long, I don’t want to ruin your day. The vast majority of people say that it’s emotional.

Which pain do you think is more common? Which one is more prolonged and disabling? Yes, you’re right. Emotional pain is by far a more common and disabling condition than physical pain.

I was seeing a constant stream of people in emotional pain and many of them were Christians. They didn’t know what to do about it. The bigger problem, neither did I.

In medical school we never talked about feelings or emotions. As students we were always given the impression that emotions were just a nuisance that got in the way of productivity. We weren’t allowed to have emotions so we just presumed they weren’t important. I became a GP, totally unprepared to help people with the most common kind of pain.

I became particularly concerned about the number of Christians who were struggling with their emotions. They didn’t seem to know where to turn or what to do about it. If we as Christians are supposed to have the answers to life’s most important questions, why then are so many of us emotionally broken?

Many of these people told me that they were too ashamed to admit to their pastors or friends that they were suffering. They presumed that since emotional problems were rarely, if ever, discussed in church, good Christians obviously did not have such problems. For years they had just been sweeping the issues under the rug hoping that they would go away because they were now Christians.

I soon realized that if we were going to help all these suffering believers, we had to start being honest and talk about our feelings, even in church.

Where do you think our emotions come from? Our emotions come from God. It’s part of being made in His image. The purpose of our emotions is to help us with relationships. They make us want to stick to each other. If we didn’t have emotions we wouldn’t be interested in having or maintaining relationships. We’d be like robots.

When we have healthy emotions, we want to be in relationship with others. Our feelings, when they are healthy, keep us in relationships. God wants us to have healthy emotions so we can have healthy relationships. He wants us to have good relationships with each other and particularly with Him.

Many of you were taught that God was a cranky old man, holding a big stick, waiting to wack us with it if we stepped out of line. But Jesus told a story to describe what God is really like and how he feels about us.

In the story of the Prodigal Son, the wayward boy disgraced the family and finally came home to face his punishment. Here’s how the Father, representing God, responded.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. ...

...... "The father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate (Luke 15:20).

Doesn’t that sound like a passionate, loving and emotional God to you?

You see, God is emotional. He’s emotional about us! He loves us more than we can imagine. He wants us to have healthy emotions so that we can have loving and exciting relationships not just with our friends and family, but with Him too.

He longs to have a closer relationship with us so we can walk together through this life and the next.

He is reaching out to hug you today like the father in the story. Will you accept His love and love Him back?

Remember, God wants you to be emotionally free.

Grant Mullen, MD, is a mental health physician, author and public speaker. For more information on emotional transformation or to subscribe to a free newsletter, visit www.drgrantmullen.com. Dr. Mullen’s free monthly video podcasts are on iTunes.

Emotionally Free

In this forthright and compassionate study, Grant Mullen helps readers identify symptoms of depression and understand treatment from three perspectives: medical, spiritual, and inner healing. From a scriptural foundation, he discusses causes of depression, exposes Satan's part in deceiving those who are suffering, and offers principles to help the reader learn to ''reconnect'' head and heart, find self-acceptance, and learn to trust God in a new and joyful way.

Originally published on Dr. Grant Mullen’s website, www.drgrantmullen.com, November 2007.

 

 

 
 
 
 

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