Hurt vs. Harm

There’s a story I was once told of a young boy who was nervous before going in for surgery. When the surgeon came in to the operating room the frightened boy asked, “Doctor… is this gonna hurt?”

The doctor replied, “Son, I’m sorry but I am gonna hurt you. But I promise, I’m not gonna harm you.

We all hate pain (except for those crazy guys at the gym… I stay clear of them). Pain is supposed to be hated because it’s the way our bodies tell us something is wrong and that we need to do something about it.

Pain does hurt… but it doesn’t have to harm.

Unfortunately though sometimes harm comes from our own bidding. Sometimes the pain, which was intended to initiate a change or reaction, now becomes harmful because nothing was done about it.

Let me illustrate what I mean…

I cooked bacon tonight for a meal I was preparing. I knew the cooking surface would be hot when I touched it to move it. As predicted, it inflicted a certain amount of pain and my brain was notified about the issue. My hand instinctively pulled back! I then proceeded to ‘manage’ the pain as I made small ‘touches’ until the cooking surface was moved (also because I was too stubborn to take 5 seconds and get a tea towel or somethingyet I digress).

Had I either ignored the initial feeling of pain, or chose to ignore the burning sensation (and possible smell if I went on FAR too long) I would now be dealing with something that did not only ‘hurt’ me for a moment, but quite possibly would now ‘harm’ me for an extended period of time.

When painful experiences come (and they will), we have to learn how to ‘manage’ that hurt. Perhaps it will be managed by ‘letting go’. Perhaps it will be managed in ‘doses’… with rest breaks in between. Perhaps, like the bacon incident, sometimes it’s just best to wait until ‘things cool down’ before reacting.

Regardless, we will have many moments of pain in our lives. Pain IS inevitable. But how we respond to that pain, that is something that we can have some control over.

My prayer is that in my life and yours, our moments of pain will hurt us only enough to consider other better choices; without dealing with the possible unnecessary recovery process of having been ‘harmed’ due to doing nothing at all.

Do you agree? Disagree? Tell me your thoughts.

At least this is how I see it,


3 thoughts on “Hurt vs. Harm

  1. Good thoughts! I think it is hard to see the difference sometimes … especially as parents, as we so desire to protect against both hurt and harm, and even equate them at times (speaking with my finger pointing right back at myself). This is such a good reminder! Thanks.

    1. Great insight Carole. It’s always easier to manage our “own” pain than to watch others we love dealing with it. May we never be the cause of “harm”! Thanks for the comment!

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