And if we shut down or run away so as not to feel the pain, then it doesn't move us forward.
And she’s right.
(Actually, she said she got the idea from hearing classes on Rav Chaim Volozhin's book, Nefesh HaChaim.)
And so, how many times is physical or emotional pain a wake-up call?
Yes, we should strive to be happy & content with our lot at all times, knowing that Hashem is Personally involved in our lives and soul-rectifications until the finest detail.
But the only way to really never feel pain is to disassociate.
And that’s not what Hashem wants.
We’ve all met people for whom life is one big blur. They never fully engage. Even when their life starts falling apart, they merely struggle to disengage further, even taking sedatives if necessary.
In Tova Mordechai’s book, To Play with Fire, she describes her parents’ bizarre reaction to the funeral of their oldest daughter, Esther, after she’d died young from a ravaging disease. Their non-Jewish evangelical father put his arm around Tova and commented, “It was nice, wasn’t it?”
Oh, yes! The funeral of your beloved daughter was so "nice"!
Understandably, Tova found such callous behavior profoundly hurtful and infuriating.
Her Jewish mother, who’d long ago gone over to the side of the evangelicals, remarked that for them — meaning Tova, the Jews who’d loved Esther, and Esther's widowed husband and orphaned child — it was a tragedy, but “for us”— meaning, the Yoshke-worshipers — it was a victory.
Being a fully-committed Jew by that time, Tova allowed herself to grieve for her sister, which is the most natural and healthiest response to such a loss.
How disturbing that the parents were such Moonies that they could not even allow themselves to feel pain at the untimely loss of their own child — let alone compassion for the young son (their grandchild) who would grow up with no mother.
So pain doesn’t mean we should kick into Moonie-mode. That’s not emuna.
It means we need to dig around to see what needs rectifying, fixing, fine-tuning.
Something’s missing. What is it?
Maybe it’s as simple — and as sometimes excruciating — as saying, “Gam zeh l’tovah—This too is for the best.”
That's because some pain is a tikkun and an atonement beyond any understanding or anything we can do.
But many other times, it’s a nudge to get us going up to the next level in our spiritual development.
We don’t need to pretend the pain is not there.
At some point, we need to face it head-on.
And when we deal with it, we need to know that we're not dealing with it alone. Not really.
Hashem is right there with us.