Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Kary Oberbrunner's book, The Deeper Path: Five Steps that Let Your Hurts Lead to Your Healing, (Baker Books, 2013).

In this fallen world, pain enters everyone’s life, so it’s inevitable that you’ll have to deal with pain. But if you respond to pain the way God hopes you will, pain will serve good purposes in your life.

You can get stuck in your pain if you deny it, numb yourself to it, or try to cope with it by settling for less than the abundant life God wants for you. There’s a better option, however: Feeling your pain and exploring it. Even though doing so will hurt, you can heal from your pain that way – and, in the process, discover and fulfill your God-given potential in life.

Here’s how you can use your pain to fulfill your potential:

  • Choose to feel your pain so you can understand what it means. Pain is actually a valuable signal alerting you to something that’s wrong in your life. But you’ll miss out on the information God wants to give you through the pain that He allows into your life if you avoid dealing with your pain directly. Pray for the courage you need to face your pain head-on and feel it fully; that’s the only way you can truly heal and grow from it. Decide that you’ll no longer just suffer chronic, purposeless pain that doesn’t lead to transformation in your life and only hurts you. Instead, choose to turn whatever pain enters your life into productive action that leads to healing and spiritual growth.
     
  • Find your melody line. In music, a melody line is the part of a song that listeners most remember, because it communicates the essence of the song and connects emotionally with listeners. In your life, you can discover your own melody line – a big idea that taps into your deepest values and aspirations. Turn down the noise level in your life by spending time in silence and solitude regularly to think and pray. Sort through all the many ideas you encounter in daily life, seeking to discover what’re uniquely meant to focus on and pursue. Actively listen to whatever messages God may want to communicate to you, which will point you toward the melody line emerging from your soul.
     
  • Question your condition. Take an honest look at every part of your life and consider how you’re feeling discontent and what unfulfilled longings are rattling around inside your soul. What more do you want to be, do, have, and give in life? Let your longings awaken you to the fact that the potential for a better life exists. Decide to do your best from now on to create a life that truly reflects what you believe is possible.
     
  • Unmask your painkillers. Stop trying to kill your pain through whatever means you may be using for that purpose: romance novels, extreme sports, video games, substances, busyness, shopping, success, church, money, work, sex, TV, or something else. Realize that God speaks through your pain, and by using painkillers, you’re interfering with the communication process between God and yourself. With painkillers in your life, you can only have a transactional relationship with God – not the transformational relationship that He intends for you to have with Him. Shift your focus away from amusement (which will only distract or divert you from your potential) and toward prayerful reflection. Allow yourself to feel the full weight of your pain – as uncomfortable as that may make you – so that you can start to understand what it means in your life. Freely pour out your painful thoughts and feelings to God in writing, since doing so will help you clarify what you’re thinking and feeling. Don’t be afraid of judgment, since God loves you unconditionally.
     
  • Explore your wounds. Ask God to show you how you’re sabotaging His dreams for you and limiting your potential in life because of how you’re reacting to the pain in your life. Stop blaming God and other people for your problems and realize that you do have the power to make choices that will change your life for the better. Rather than being a victim who believes that the world happens to you, decide to be a victor who believes that you happen to the world – which is exactly what you can be, when you invite God to work through you every day.
     
  • Overcome your excuses. Identify and eliminate the self-limiting beliefs that are preventing you from making progress with healing and reaching your God-given potential in life. Ask God to give you the courage you need to take whatever risks He calls you to take, so you can keep moving forward.
     
  • Embody your healing. Since your energy flows wherever you focus your thoughts, choose to think about faith much more often than you do about fear. Pray for the Holy Spirit to renew your mind every day, and whenever a fearful thought enters your mind, replace it with a thought that reflects biblical truth, such as scriptures that describe God’s promises to you.
     
  • Discover your passion. Cooperate with God to create your new life by discovering what you’re passionate about, and how you can best pursue that passion to contribute to the world. Don’t delay; make full use of the gift of each day that God gives you.
     
  • Author your opus. Your opus is a written statement that helps you clarify who you are and what you should do in life to best fulfill God’s purposes for you. Your opus should include: your big dream for your work, the purpose of your work, the strategies necessary for you to achieve your goals, and the ways you intend to measure your progress to determine whether or not you’re hitting your target. While writing it, keep in mind: your worldview (what you believe), your identity (who you are), your principles (what you value), your passion (what you love), your purpose (why you live and work), and your process (how you will do so).

Adapted from The Deeper Path: Five Steps that Let Your Hurts Lead to Your Healing, copyright 2013 by Kary Oberbrunner. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com