The Lessons We Learn From Pain
I am living with pain and regret today.
The other night I slipped while descending the stairs and fell, hitting my lower back on at least four steps before coming to a halt.
I regret not watching where I was going because I was looking at my phone. The pain I feel is in direct correlation to my regret. Now my back hurts, and I've been stretching it to find some release to no avail.
But I believe that I have learned a valuable lesson in all of this: Put down the phone when descending the stairs.
And the ache in my back is a reminder of this lesson. I'm not seriously injured, but I'm injured enough to know that I don't want to learn that lesson again. The pain will likely fade, but hopefully, the lesson was learned.
All of this got me thinking about the many lessons that the pain we experience in life brings and how often we focus on our pain instead of the lessons it can teach.
Because sometimes the pain is all we can feel in the moment, it's easy to stay with it, do whatever we can to ease it, numb ourselves to it, or simply wallow in it.
None of us enjoy feeling the pain of heartbreak, the sting of guilt, the ache of regret, yet these feelings come to us, unwelcome as they are, to teach us if we are willing to learn.
I was listening to a song by Ryan O'Neal this morning, and it had this beautiful and mysterious line that resonated with me:
"Pain's a well-intentioned weatherman/Predicting God as best he can."
I love that line, but it also troubles me.
It troubles me because I know that sometimes it takes experiencing pain for me to admit that I'm powerless, and I also love it because I hold on to hope that God is not only with me in the painful moments but also doing something new on the other side of them.
And the lesson we can learn from this is that we're never left alone in our heartache and that the pain of it won't last forever. There's also something more:
If we're willing to learn the lessons that pain brings when we feel broken, we open ourselves up to the power of the Resurrection within us. We can also become stronger because of this power.
Author Amy Tan puts it like this:
So this is what I will do. I will gather together my past and look. I will see a thing that has already happened. The pain that cut my spirit loose. I will hold that pain in my hand until it becomes hard and shiny, more clear. And then my fierceness will come back, my golden side, my black side.
There's so much beauty in that quote. The author declares that she will not be overcome by the pain she's experienced but instead will use it to find a new way forward.
She learns to embrace her "sides" as part of who she is and harness the power within her to learn from her pain and transcend it.
May you see it, too. May you find that the lessons from the pain you hold have become more apparent to you and that as you hold it tightly, you feel the rush of Resurrection within you.
May it be so. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.