Mental Health is … Accepting the Pain to Get the Gain

Mental Health is … Accepting the Pain to Get the Gain

If you want long-term gain, you need to accept short-term pain. We want ‘quick-fix’ solutions and instant gratification but reaping never comes before sowing.

When my counselor said we would have to go through this unbearable feeling, I felt a kind of pulling back.

Did I really want to go THERE?

‘You can’t go around it’ he continued, and I knew he was right. 

I had seen others avoid and run from the tough stuff many times.

All of them had remained stuck in their lives.

Wheels spinning over the same old problem. Misery created for themselves and those in a relationship with them.

If I wanted the ‘abundant life,’ then I would have to slay the demons of my past haunting my present.

He promised that I wouldn’t be alone on the path. He would be there, and others had left well-trodden footprints that I could step into.

Cowards don’t get help

I think the bravest people I know are the ones who are willing to face themselves. They are willing to go where no one has gone before.

Maybe in counseling rooms, there should have a sign – ‘Only brave people come here.’

With honesty, there is a relentless pursuit of wholeness and holiness.

There is a choice of the narrow path that Jesus says will bring life.

A narrow path where you squeeze between huge unyielding boulders and to get through you have to jettison some of the beliefs you have been carrying.

If life were easy everyone would be living it.

Mind to do the work

Imagine living your life in a city of rubble. You build houses out of what you can find. A few stones here and there. Timbers holding up flimsy roofs.

Its functional, tolerable but not ideal. You know things can be better, but there is always the threat of yet another invading army sweeping over your town.

You have no walls of defense. You are vulnerable, and so you never grow.

A wall builder comes to your town and inspires hope into your heart, but it’s going to take work.

This is the story of Nehemiah who comes to tumbled down Jerusalem.

The people rally together and begin to do the work of rebuilding.

All except for one group of people.

Next to them the Tekoites made repairs; but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work of their Lord Nehemiah 3:5

These nobles didn’t want to get their hands dirty. They didn’t want to take direction from someone else.

Broken to Built: 31 Days of Rebuilding with Nehemiah

To dig, sweat, and shift rock.

They wanted the glory but without the story.

Read more about this in my book Broken to Built. 

The Short-term pain for the Long-term gain  

Someone with good mental health has a willingness to accept short-term pain for the long-term gain.

They know and accept that there are no shortcuts to success.

The training athlete rises early to run, swim, lift weights because they have an eye on the long-term.  They know the pain of tired legs and aching muscles.

As I write this, it is 5 am, and part of me would rather be still in bed, but I do this because I believe that there is a long-term gain to be had both in myself and hopefully in you the reader.

The work begins with the knee

If there is one quality in all of those on the narrow path it is worn down knees from all the times the knees have kissed the ground in broken humility.

We are the prodigal son or daughter coming to their senses in the pigpen.

Admitting how we have got things wrong.

Sometimes the best thing we can do for each other
is talk honestly about being wrong.
Nadia Bolz-Weber

That short little phrase ‘I was wrong’ can be so hard to say. Yet, it is the first seed sown for an unbelievably good harvest.

What! You too?

One of the best qualities of any recovery group is the ground-zero effect it offers. Everyone there has a story of failed humanity to share. There is an invite to push through together on the wave of the ‘just for one day’  mantra.

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:
‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.
C.S. Lewis

The long-term gain comes with the daily commitment to the short-term gain.

We do this in a community where each person discovers they are not the only one.

If you want long-term gain, you need to accept short-term pain. We want ‘quick-fix’ solutions and instant gratification but reaping never comes before sowing.

Quotes to consider

  • God continues to reach into the graves we dig for ourselves and pull us out, giving us new life, in ways both dramatic and small. Nadia Bolz-Weber  Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
  • God’s grace to me is that my brokenness is not the final word. Nadia Bolz-Weber Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint
  • Change is difficult. Only when the pain that comes from remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of change, do we get serious about getting help. David Riddell
  • Self-control is the ability to postpone immediate pleasure in order to confront less attractive tasks. (Will-power comes from insight) David Riddell
  • Living is not for spectators. To live abundantly demands that we take risks in coming down from the grandstand and getting involved. David Riddell
  • The truth will set you free to enter heaven, but first, it will hurt like hell. David Riddell

Questions to answer

  1. What do avoid and why?
  2. Where have you accepted short-term pain for a long-term gain?
  3. Are the wheels of your life spinning? Are you caught in a cycle of repeating the same old mistakes time and time again? What will it take for you to be brave and face the unbearable feelings you keep avoiding?

Further Reading

Just Don’t Touch That Button – Your Unbearable Feeling

In Recovery YOU Have To Do The Work

Is Taking A Spiritual Bypass Harming Your Mental Health?


Barry Pearman

This is a series based on ’12 Fundamentals of Mental Health’ by David Riddell

Image cc: Luke Besley