Learning to deal with pain

By Lynn Jones

When I was growing up, three things filled me with fear and trembling. First, was going to the doctor to get a shot; second, was going to the dentist to get a tooth filled; third, was going to sit on the stool in the living room to get a haircut administered by my father.

The thing that all three of these least-favorite experiences had in common was pain. I didn’t like it! You may not think that getting a haircut has much in common with getting a shot or getting a tooth filled, but let me explain. My father had learned to cut hair as the oldest son in a big family. It was in a day when barbers were not readily available in the country, and if they had been, my dad’s family would not have been able to afford that many haircuts.

So, my father had learned to cut hair by practice. The goal of his haircuts was not to produce a stylish look—it was to remove the hair from the neck and from around the ears. When he got through with you, your head often looked like a white sidewall tire (the old ones with the wide white stripes).

Lynn Jones

It was not the style of his haircuts that I feared, however, it was the pain involved. Daddy cut our hair with hand clippers. These were clippers that were operated by hand power. He pulled the handles together, and as he did so, he moved the blade and clipped the hair. There were two problems with this. If the blade was not very sharp, it would pull your hair. The other problem was that if he did not completely release the handles before moving the clippers, he would often pull your hair. You knew when you sat down on the stool that a hair-pulling was not far away. The only thing you didn’t know was when it was coming.

Maybe it was good training for life. Dealing with pain is a necessary skill in life. You can’t run away from all painful experiences. They have a way of catching up with you. Coping with them in a redemptive way is necessary. The best way to cope is with the grace that only God can give. He has promised that it will be sufficient for us in every situation.

I don’t remember praying for grace when I was facing a haircut. I do remember offering a prayer of gratitude when Mom, out of compassion for her sons, ordered some electric hair clippers. They didn’t completely solve the problem, but they were a big improvement. As soon as Wayne got old enough, he got a crew cut. Daddy didn’t know how to give a crew cut so Wayne was off the hook. Soon, I was also allowed to see a real barber. It was a liberating experience.

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: kljones45@yahoo.com.

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