Brain Freeze of the Soul

I kind-of hate brain freezes. I think hospitals should re-work their little pain charts. The “10” with the frowny face ought to have a guide of ‘kidney stone’ or ‘giving birth. Their ought to be an 11 with an extra-frowny face, with the words “brain freeze” under it.
(I have never personally experienced either a kidney stone or child birth. I hope you’ll forgive me a little hyperbole to make the point.)
The funny thing is, that if you could watch me in the summer time with my favorite frappacinno or ice-cold smoothie, it would probably be pretty funny, because I am not very good at avoiding them. Perhaps more accurately: I am not very motivated to avoid them.
untitledOften times, I will get one, and the spike that is lodged between my temples has barely been removed before I am on to the next gulp. It’s not that I’ve forgotten. It’s not that I am unaware. I take that gulp well-informed that I have an excellent chance of re-experiencing the same brain freeze I have just gotten out of the grips of.
I don’t know if this is alien to you. Maybe I am alone in my foolishness. I’ve recently realized I am a pretty smart guy… except when I’m not. And maybe this is just one of those times I am not.
I’ve been reflecting on why I do this, recently. Here is what I came up with:
A) I know the pain is temporary.
B) I really like the pleasure of the drink.
C) The pain can’t hurt me– so far as I know, brain freeze is not like a concussion. I am pretty sure I am not accumulating long-term effects.

Just to be clear, I hate pain. I am open to the charge of being a wimp. Ordinarily, I do my best to avoid unpleasentness and suffering in all it’s varied forms.
In fact, it’s this realization about myself that got me thinking of it all in the first place.
I have spent a long time, working hard at minimizing the pain — physical and mental– I experience. My willingness to subject myself to brain freeze is very much an exception, not the rule. The thing is that despite the time, work and energy I have put into minimizing the pain I experience, I don’t think I have been very successful.
Recently, I had this realization:

It is all brain freeze.

It is all temporary. It is all necessary for pleasure to come, too. In the end, there are no eternal pains. Someday — though maybe not in this life– they will all fade away.

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to stop living from a damage-control mind set. This does not mean I need to be reckless or masochistic. But it means that pain is just pain, and sometimes things hurt.. But in the end, hurt is just hurt. And there is no way to escape it anyway.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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