Pain Avoidance vs. Purpose

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Pain Avoidance vs. Purpose

There is a tension I want to bring to your attention.

Discomfort Avoidance <———————–> Joyful, Meaningful Life

When we avoid pain or various forms of discomfort, we seldom have the joy of living with a satisfying sense of meaning and purpose. It seems we live in a society that attempts to have it both ways, saying,

‘I’ll enjoy living with a joyful sense of meaning and purpose while managing my life to avoid discomfort. I’ll have both, thank you very much!’

That’s me sometimes – and maybe you, too. I’m noticing that when I hold that perspective, I end up feeling like I’m drifting through life, not accomplishing much of anything.

When I wake up, grow up, and fess up, I know that is not the way the world works – and it’s not the way God works either.

The truth is, struggle is necessary for growth, but more importantly, it is necessary for a life of faith. God never promises a life free from discomfort. He knows we’ve been plopped down into a fallen word that requires an attachment to him to live the adventure we were made for. His desire is to work with us and through us to bring a bit of heaven to earth. Pain avoidance isn’t really the goal of life, so why do I try to live as if it is?

I want to live wisely – to be open and vulnerable to how God is forming me, and to be willing to risk discomfort to make some ripples that will benefit others.

Questions to Ponder:

  • For you, what is worthy of risking discomfort?
  • What are the consequences of avoiding discomfort right now?
  • What would you find courage to do if you embraced struggle as a natural, survivable, necessary element of pursuing joy and meaningful living?

Ready to MAP YOUR LIFE? Find out more about journeying through the Listen to My Life: Maps for Recognizing and Responding to God in My Story’ process by clicking here.

If you are interested in the possibility of being certified to facilitate others through the Listen to My Life process, please let us know by clicking here.

By |2017-07-31T14:41:32+00:00August 8, 2017|Categories: Life-Giving Rhythms, Spiritual Practice|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

About the Author:

Sharon Swing is an author, retreat leader, speaker, artist and consultant with interests in life story as a spiritual development tool, crafting experiences that give God space to do what he does best, art as a spiritual pathway, and change. With Sibyl Towner, she has co-authored Listen to My Life: Maps for Recognizing and Responding to God in My Story. For more information, visit She is an organization development consultant specializing in planning, meeting facilitation, leadership development and change management. For more information, visit

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