Pain thresholds and other beautiful things

At the bank I’m ushered to plush corporate couches. A dozen people already wait and the air is too thick with the cultured impotence of the quietly simmering.

I sit.

Scroll twitter. Like, like, like, comment on random things.


Glance down again at my phone.

And I know.

Half is gone. Half a screen. I look up. Half a room. Half the people. The other half blurred and dancing vague.

It’s coming.

I haven’t had a migraine in a while and it figures I’m about due for one. This week’s cocktail has shaken all the makings. I can’t see round the edges of my to-dos and now I can’t see round the edges of anything.

I need to take something. Now. I rummage – swallow a cocktail of my own and pray the wave will break.


The forms blur. The pain builds. I mumble laughed-out apologies. So sorry. Ha! Just a migraine. Gosh. Where do I sign? (Um. How do I sign?)

Eventually I’m out of there. The boys are with my mom. Head back to my mom’s. Head. Head. Head. Just get this head back to my mom’s. I drive with one hand on the steering wheel and one eye on the road. The other half of me is closed and clutching hard to bash down the pain. I start thinking of ways to crush my skull because I’m panicking just a little. I need to let the pain out. It’s getting bigger in my head and there’s no more space.

I’m about at my threshold.

Back at my folks I’m a crying pale sorry mess. Cam brings me water and says I should try to do something fun so I’ll forget that it’s sore. My mom gets them ready to head happy back to church for a Holiday Club celebration.

Eventually the pain ebbs. The nausea washes up feeble and I drive it back as I drive back home to try and clean up good so that me and my head, we can make it to church.

We get there and everything is beautiful.

Because that’s what pain does to me. Leaves me washed out – washed up – washed clean and left to dry on the wide sands of low tide. It’s in the aftermath – the calm relief – that I notice the bright gladness of all things wise and wonderful, all things well. I see the normalcies and lovely intricacies of life breathed in and out steady and strong.

And maybe that’s how it is with all kinds of pain thresholds. Because the truth is that a threshold is a limit – a ceiling – a this-far-and-no-further. And a threshold is also a verge – a brink – a beginning. It’s the groom carrying his bride into new life and love. Lamb’s blood smeared on the thresholds of ancient slave slums promised the essential pain threshold that would say, ‘It is finished.’ Then stand on the threshold of the grave, and rise again. Maybe, on the threshold, we need courage to trust the Creator of capacity – the God who knows just how we should break so that the pain can flood through as the onset – the inception – of beauty.

. . .

Amazing email subscriber friends:

Bizarrely, last Monday’s post may not have found its way to your inbox? So sorry. Be sure to check it out. And I’d love to hear how you’re re-framing a pain threshold in your life.

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