Choose your burn

August 14, 2006 at 10:40 pm Leave a comment

“There is a flame of pain that fuels every great love story,” writes Dannah Gresh in her book And the Bride Wore White.

The pain, she says, comes in one of two packages. The first is the crash and burn package, which hides behind a facade of pleasures. This is the type of pain involved in love that looks for fun and immediate gratification. It accompanies the glamor of celebrity romances, which tend to fizzle when things get tough, leaving a mess of wreckage in their wake.

7313834.gifThe other type of pain is the pure, slow burn. This is the type of pain that comes with a patient, disciplined, selfless love, with a love that insists on being responsible even when it means less pleasure in the short term.

This latter type of pain is what marathon runners face: the ache that comes with patient, disciplined training day after day, that shows up in the form of lots of sweat and sore muscles. This love lacks glamour, but it’s able to endure because it isn’t focused on gratification.

Pain is not optional

What I think is so astute about Gresh’s analysis is her recognition that avoiding pain is not an option. Pain itself is a fact: our choice is not whether we will experience hurts, but merely which sort of pain we will choose.

And I think this is true of more than just romance. Not only do all love stories involve pain, but so do all life stories. It’s easy to be seduced by idealistic images of pleasure that appear to involve instant gratification and no consequences; these deceive us into thinking we can get by without pain.

But these are unrealistic images. There’s a “burn” one way or the other. We merely get to choose whether it will be the sort that scars or the sort that refines.

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Ha! It’s because our brains are bigger! If you give a mouse a cookie…

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Profile

profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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