…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Working Through the Pain

Manly Ways

By Rex Goode



Jerry Kelley

I often deride myself for being a wimp about pain. I’ve had my share of it and I always want to let it shut me down. Sometimes, it is better to take a break from what you’re doing when pain strikes, but sometimes it is important to work through it. Some pain is good.

It is good inasmuch as it gives us information about something that is happening in our bodies…and souls. It also doesn’t always mean that we should stop doing things that we’re doing. It may mean we have to do them a different way, but not always.

For example, just because I get sore from exercising doesn’t mean I should stop exercising. In fact, being a little sore may be a sign that I did it right, that my muscles are being built. After a reasonable rest, I should do it again.

I don’t take it to the extremes my stepfather, Jerry Kelly, did. I remember one time, we lived in a house on a large property. The landlord lived there too.

Once, he offered my dad a chance to work off the rent one month by putting up a chain link fence. While working on the fence, my dad scraped the back of his hand along the fence and started bleeding. I was helping by holding tools.

I wanted to him to come back to the house and get bandaged up, maybe even quit for the day. He was really irritated with me, made some gruff comment about me being a sissy, and kept working, the blood dripping off of his hard-at-work hand into the dirt below.

When he eventually went home, he washed it off, but wouldn’t put a bandage on it. It had stopped bleeding, but was still red. He just went about his business, never paying the least attention to his wound again. It eventually healed.

My feelings about it were a mixture of being impressed with what I considered his manliness and being ashamed that I would have gone back to the house right way, bandaged my hand, and taken the rest of the day off. I assumed he was right. I was a sissy.

That comparison has plagued me most of my life. Through back injuries, gout, and now, osteoarthritis, I have had a lot of pain. I’ve never dealt with it like my stepfather. He rarely took a sick day from work.

Years later, he had a bad patch of skin on his back that had grown into an abscess and was causing him a lot of pain. My mother had to nag him to go see a doctor about it. He really identified his manliness by how well he could endure pain and just ignore problems.

He never let pain or even danger keep him from doing something. My children remember fondly the time we were camping and a bucket fell in a river a couple of times. Each time it fell in, he took off running down the trail until he got in front of the bucket and went out to get it.

I could never be like that. I still can’t and sometimes I still think that it is a mark of masculinity to just keep working despite pain and bleeding. Mind you, I logically and cognitively know it to not be true, but there are thoughts beyond reason that often affect us more.

The last two weeks have been very painful for me. My old back injury has been giving me big problems. When I wake up in the morning, I can barely stand. It feels like an internal hydraulic press is dragging my body into a standing contortion that is excruciating.

Yet, being in a job that doesn’t have sick pay and only pays when I’m working, I’ve had to push through it, against my nature, and show up to work every morning. It has felt like until I can get a day of rest from everything, it wouldn’t go away. Well, yesterday I had that day of rest and I finally am feeling better.

I’ve been reflecting on it and remembering the incident with my dad and the bloody knuckles. You know, he kept working through pain in his way, but I’ve kept working through pain in my way.

I’m not just talking about physical pain. I’m talking about the emotional, mental, and even spiritual pain that I have suffered in m life. Sometimes it has been great enough to debilitate me, but I have always found a way to work through it and keep on a steady course.

Today, I’m still going. I’m still working, usually harder than I want. I’m pushing forward on a course I believe to be right despite powerful feelings to give up and change courses. I’m letting go of the hurts for the abuses of the past. I’m making my way through life, experiencing pain but not letting it deter me. I think I’m more like Dad than I thought.

I have to admit that I never really liked my dad when I was a boy. I don’t think he liked me much either. As we both got older, there developed a somewhat subdued affection for each other. He continued to do things his way and I continued to do things my way. I think he had great respect for me by the time he passed away and I know I had a lot of great memories, not so much of how he fathered me, but how he grandfathered my children. He was an awesome Grandpa.

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One Response to “Working Through the Pain”

  1. Colleen Naqshbandi said:

    Please don’t compare yourself with ANYONE. We love you! Not who you resemble or who you try to be. We love you as you are. Jerry was Jerry. He tried to prove his manliness in other ways that you would not like to emulate. The love your children and grandchildren have for you is indicative of how they see you and how you behave. I see you thru their eyes and thru Barbara’s eyes. I too have much pain, I too have osteoarthritis as well as peripheral neuropathy that keeps me in constant pain and doesn’t help because the arthritis is in my feet too. Sometimes I writhe in pain and sometimes I just endure it so that I don’t tire people out by my complaining. Christ cried out in pain! Don’t question your manliness…look at your children! obviously you are man enough to be a co-creator with God. And by the way…God love you dear heart. God love you.

    Always love from me too, Iona

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