Painless penance? I had a slight struggle with that until I came to a realization that painful penance possibly does have many facets. Let me explain myself. I have a blog on blooger.com. I am King David Hair Shirts. On my blog, I share my daily reflections and experiences.
Today, I came to the realization that my relationship with God is a bit unbalanced. While my faith is not the tantamount issue, its my lack of trust in God that I became aware of. For me, it's that sense of uncertainty, uncertain about where I stand with God, that is a hindrance. That lack of trust is penance self-imposed. And if given reflection, that lack of trust is spiritually more painful to me than any physical flogging, disciplines, or hairshirts can even attempt to approach.
Prayer helps but at times I find it difficult to pray, very often. I think, erroneously, that if I pray there is a good chance that God won't hear my prayer, or He will be slow to respond. Or not respond. I have looked at this and I now realize that my relationship with God is based on template that is at work in my relationships with others, including family and friends. At times, I feel unseen, unheard. When I am with people, I think that they can't hear or see my fear, or they don't want to hear me. Unfortunately, I treat God with that same sense of disconnection.
That sense of disconnection and lack of trust has kept me up more nights than any physical penances have. I guess I need to grow more in trust, this done by learning to trust that voice in me that says all will be well. And that God does trust me.