Coping is a Cop-Out
I don’t feel I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. PHILIPPIANS 3:13-14 CEV
Having a high pain threshold isn’t always the best. I’ve got one. It came in handy for things like giving birth. But it didn’t come in handy when I had a tooth abscess not too long ago. Unfortunately, because my pain threshold is so high, I didn’t take what I was feeling seriously enough. Months went by before I got an X-ray. I simply shrugged off the pain assuming (or hoping) it would go away.
But putting off what I needed to do only allowed the infection to grow. This led to an even more extensive and lengthier experience for healing than it would have been had I gone in for the X-ray at the beginning. Avoiding pain is never a good call. Kicking that pain-can down the proverbial road doesn’t do you any favors. No one enjoys pain, but pain does have a purpose.
How we respond to what we feel determines whether we stay stuck in what we feel longer than we should, or whether we get to press on in such a way that allows us to embrace our present. Pain exists as an impetus. It wants us to take action. Whether that action be acknowledging it and learning from it, or simply pulling back our hand from a hot iron—pain has a purpose. When we bypass that purpose, we lengthen the stay of our pain. To bypass a purpose is to do anything, or even everything, other than the purpose that pain has for you. We often call that coping.
Have you ever noticed that coping sucks the life out of you? It becomes your new obsession. All you can think about is how to cope. It doesn’t address the situation or difﬁculty you are facing; rather, it prevents you from addressing it. It also prevents you from using your other emotions and thoughts wisely in order to make choices that allow you to pursue what you want now. Coping is a cop-out and saps energy from your soul.
What do you ﬁnd yourself coping with? Consider moving out of the mindset of coping into the more present posture of learning, responding, and growth. It may mean some uncomfortable moments, but they will be fewer and farther between as you make emotional awareness and acceptance a way of life.
Jesus, make me emotionally aware so I can respond, learn, and grow through life’s experiences. Amen.