Facing the pain: why trouble and pain are part of your growth

Uncategorized Apr 14, 2018

"In this world, you will have trouble"

John 16:33

There is no question that challenge and pain are an integral part of the human experience. In fact there are times when the pain is so great, the obstacles so daunting, that we are paralyzed in their presence. We wring our hands, we lose sleep, and we separate ourselves from those who love us as we wrestle with these demons.

“There are things we try to pray our way through, and there are things that ask us to wade our way into them”, says Rob Bell, (one of my favorites). There are things that we must trust and pray that we will have the strength

I’m a natural-born fixer. I trouble-shoot. I figure it out. I put things back on the right path when they go awry. But there are things that cannot be simply ‘figured out’. There are things that must just be felt and acknowledged…despite their incredible weight and pain.

In my own life I have experienced illness and betrayal that have brought me to my knees. There was no ‘fix’ for these experiences. There was no silver bullet that would take my pain away. I was forced to let the pain sink in, and flow through every fiber of my being. It was hard. No. It was more than hard; it was life-alteringly disruptive.

However, pain is also our greatest teacher. Pain forces us to consider alternative perspectives of our own lives. Pain and troubles hold us down, and push our faces into things that we’d rather not see, touch or feel.

While clearly no one wants to learn through pain, there is no denying the growth that can come from navigating through it. “In this world you will have trouble”. This is our inheritance, this is our human condition.

We have also inherited many tools to survive despite this pain, and in many instances thrive as a result of it. We have a spiritual self and life that we call upon most clearly when in pain. We have brave intellect, and soulful longings for connection. We have the gift of prayer and mindfulness. We have love. Most importantly we have love.

So many resources at our disposal that can come to our aid, but only when we are ready to deploy them. Our human condition implies trouble and suffering. However, it also implies limitless hope and possibility. The two extremes co-exist in harmony, despite our personal experience of them.

I personally choose to believe in the inherently positive and magical possibilities of the human condition. I choose to believe that we can overcome any pain. That we can thrive despite incredible and incomprehensible loss and hardship.

Pain can help us uncover and reveal strengths and resilience that we could not have imagined we possessed. Pain can be like a strong solvent, exposing the beautiful wood beneath a badly stained floor. A scrub brush, cleansing away all of the pretense and stories we have convinced ourselves of over the years, forcing us to see things clearly for perhaps the first time. A great flood that leaves behind a fertile soil that will feed our future growth and rebirth.

Pain can be a great calibrator. But only if we allow it to teach us.


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