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26
Mar

Clean Pain and Dirty Pain

Posted on March 26th, 2013

Examples of dirty pain are found throughout Scripture. The Israelites wander for forty years in the desert due to their unbelief. Jonah finds himself in a stormy sea as he runs from God’s will. Abraham experiences years of pain after birthing Ishmael rather than wait on God. Much of our dirty pain in leadership comes from a failure to wait and listen to wise counsel. Hasty staff hires, half-formed plans, sloppy meetings, a turbulent spirit due to a failure to set boundaries, rushed sermons – are a few examples. We don’t learn in dirty pain because we are defending, denying, and avoiding.  It is the pain of repeating the same mistakes.  I know it well. Examples of clean pain are also found throughout Scripture. Jesus struggles with the Father’s will in Gethsemane.  Paul’s pleads to remove a thorn in the flesh. Abraham climbs a mountain to obey God and sacrifice his son. Clean pain hurts also, but is quite different. Clean pain comes from moving forward, accepting the reality of our lives, assessing honestly what is happening, praying, planning, and doing what is right. Clean pain rewires our interiors and grows us up. As David Schnarch says in Passionate Marriage: “It’s hard to soothe clean pain; It’s almost impossible to soothe dirty pain.”

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