It’s an inevitable fact of life. A unifying reality that both rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, men and women, left-handers and those not fortunate enough to be left-handed, all experience.
Everyone hurts. As Bob Dylan said, “Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”
Pain comes in many forms. We go to great lengths to avoid it, to bury it deep, to fight it with therapy and medication and a slew of other solutions.
I’d like to posit, though, that pain is not the enemy. It’s simply an indicator that something needs to change.
Physical pain, for instance, is the body’s way of letting us know that something is wrong. If, for reasons unknown, you put your tongue on a hot rod of iron, for instance, pain will immediately let you know that this was a terrible idea. Unless, of course, you’re a leper, in which case I invite you to skip to the next paragraph.
In a similar fashion, emotional pain is the heart’s way of letting us know that something is wrong, that something needs to change.
And change we do, whether for better or worse.
Pain can shut a heart down; it can break a person’s will; it can lead to terrible, permanent decisions.
But pain, in and of itself, has no power. It can only break us if we let it. Ergo, it can only help us if we let it, as well.
Pain can do amazing things. It gets us out of our comfort zone; shakes us from complacency. Pain helps us find meaning in all that heals. Without pain, we would never know that we’re in need.
Through pain, not in spite of it, we become who we want to be. We learn how to love more deeply. We strip away all of life’s frivolity and cling to who and what really matters. And, in the midst of pain, we long even more deeply for a place where everything is made new.
Are you going through pain? A tragedy, a failed relationship, a death, broken dreams, an illness, or regret? I can relate. We as a human race can relate. You are not alone in your pain. I have experienced plenty of it, and I have often let it get the best of me. I’m in the midst of several very private, very painful situations right now, so I’m writing this just as much for myself as I am for you.
If you are anything like me, you’re tired of useless clichés: “Things will get better!” “You’ve gotta find the silver lining!” “Everything will turn out OK!”
Sometimes, things will not turn out OK. Sometimes, pain becomes our ever-present reality. Sometimes, there are no easy answers, and sometimes, there are no answers at all.
Pain is well beyond knocking when it arrives at your door. Now, it just lets itself in, makes itself at home in your heart. So, I encourage you not to run from it. Not to bury it. Not to ignore it. Face the pain head-on. Embrace it, even. A wise woman named Oprah puts it like this: “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Let your pain change you: not into a bitter, self-pitying recluse, but into someone who clings firmly to love, to joy, and to the promise that one day, pain will be no more.
We are not left to deal with our pain alone. A Man of Suffering, familiar with pain, took the agony we deserve upon himself so that one day soon, pain will be erased forever.
An wise man named C.S. Lewis delves deep: “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Pain is calling. Are you listening?