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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Denial: the simple decision to not feel pain

I was so excited. It was the morning I was breaking my fast. I had gone for some time without eating in the mornings. Historically, when I break a fast, it is always a special moment. It reminds me of the good times God and I have had over the course of the fast. Those times when I was hangry as all get out and had to rely on Him to give me energy and make me smile – and He did, joy came from the inside.

But honestly, though it was good to be eating, the moment didn’t feel at all spiritual. Even more honestly, half of my joy in breaking the fast was that I didn’t have to dread going several more hours without eating. I was frustrated. I had been frustrated the entire fast. Why wasn’t this working? I knew God had asked me to do it, so why was my experience so different than all the great memories I had of His provision during other times of fasting.

Then it struck me. The entire fast had been a portrait of denial. A perfect picture of what it looked like to be in pain, refuse to admit it and refuse to take it to God for His comfort and provision.

The entire fast I was aware something was wrong, but I was annoyed by my hunger and inability to fill it in a conventional manner. Every time I thought I was too hungry to make it through the morning, I found something to do to take my mind off the matter. I designed my work and my day to make the fast as easy as possible. I changed my typical schedule, so I could eat as soon as possible. I ignored it and hoped it would go away.

Sometimes I even read the Bible and prayed, so I wouldn’t feel my hunger. And no, that is not the point of fasting. Instead of feeling the need and bringing it to Him, I ignored my hunger and tried to cover it with religious practice. I did everything to get away from the intensified feeling of need provoked by my fast. I hated it.

Even while I was experiencing the fast, I knew something was wrong. I hated how unproductive this fast was, but I didn’t know how to fix it. During the experience, I had no knowledge of what became crystal clear as I broke my fast. I was in denial.

I am reading a book (Inside Out Dr. Larry Crabb) about this very topic. Perhaps having managed to read the first chapter or two is why I had the revelation I did as I ate my breakfast.

See, we people, believers and unbelievers alike, have an ache that will never be filled with anything but the Triune God. Most of us, unbelievers and believers alike, ignore it. We live life on the surface, trying our best not to feel our need. For some of us, that means we stay super busy – too busy to look inside and acknowledge the pain we are experiencing. Work, TV, church, Bible reading, volunteering, anything but create the space to feel our pain.

And now my pastor is teaching a series on the same subject. Anyway as far as I am concerned, it is the same subject. We have a need for love, one only God can fill. We can choose to create the space in our lives to allow Him to fill it, or we can keep vainly running after other gods.

Six years ago, I felt like I belonged on earth. I saw little comfort in the knowledge that someday I would go home to Him. I was really busy feeling as little pain as possible. Then running after all those other ways of filling the void caught up with me. I had to face reality: If God wasn’t enough for me, I had no hope because I didn’t have anything else.

He has been enough for me. I am more cuttingly aware of the painful ache now than I have ever been. I am learning to begin embracing my need for Him. I hope I would never give up this experience of Him for anything. Last night I considered what it would be like to go back to a life of trying to escape feeling my pain. I concluded it was an option worse than physical death.

What means do you use to try to escape experiencing your pain? In what ways have you learned to embrace your need for Him? Have you built time into your daily schedule to feel your need?

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