I have come to believe that everyone I meet is fighting some sort of battle. All suffer and strive. All seek relief. Sooner or later, all will conquer all.
I am no exception. The past five years, relentlessly, has brought exquisite suffering. Chief among them—job troubles, making a living but things not quite working out to expectations. Relationship troubles, nothing horrible, just less than enjoyable. Death of loved ones. New aches appear some mornings, that apparently will be with me for the rest of my life.
Various species of suffering, like grinning Gargoyles, perched often above either shoulder, as I ran, stumbled and trudged along the challenging corridors of my life.
I wondered if I might have planned better— and stayed on top or avoided.
The Gargoyles are steadily losing their power and crumbling to dust, as I continue to push forward. I began my baby steps into the winner’s circle around the middle of December a year ago, after I responded with angry but well-focused energy to a stinging get-up-off-your-butt reproof from a friend.
Eight things the Gargoyles taught me about the positive uses of pain:
- As we endure, we learn how much strength we really possess (always more than we think as we learn how to fight the good fight).
- We become humble and teachable because of our afflictions — our hearts take on spaciousness.
- We become stronger — as it says on the back of one of my biking T-shirts, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”.
- Our suffering may serve as a healing experience for others (for example, numerous family relationships have been healed through the suffering of one family member).
- We have a chance to learn firsthand what others may need in the same or similar circumstances — thus we acquire empathy and compassion.
- We learn that if we are sincerely trying to do good, pain is not eternal. As promised, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” Psalm 30:5. After the Garden of Gethsemane, if we endure well, comes always the Garden of Gratitude.
- Our afflictions provide opportunities for others to do things for us. They stretch and grow through service, as much as we stretch and grow by being served.
- We learn ENORMOUS enjoyment of the good through having experienced the bad—some call this the Law of Opposition in all Things—a driver of the Great Plan of Happiness.
Surely other positive uses of pain are available. Currently that degree of understanding is apparently above my pay grade.
I do not advocate a mindset of suffering, nor do I wish it on anyone. I do advocate making all we can of what life puts in our path.