Pain is a gift.
I realize saying that may make a few people stare at me oddly. And people currently in the throes of pain may resent me, but it’s a topic worth addressing. We need to get past the stage of suffering where we eagle-eye focus in on ourselves. We need to get to the point where we think of our pain in relation to each other. Think about what pain really does in our lives- not simply the part where we feel our pain, but the part where we open up to each other, learn to depend on each other, and learn to hold others who are crying.
Without the pain, none of these experiences would be possible. If Billy couldn’t feel physical pain, and then a friend of his scraped a knee, how do you think that Billy might respond? I can only imagine the conversation:
Billy: Why are you crying?
Timmy: Because I scraped my knee.
Billy: But it’s not even bleeding. Why would you cry?
Timmy: It hurts.
Timmy: (pinches Billy) Hurts.
Billy: Why did you do that?
And so on, and so on… Because Billy’s lack of pain bars him from imagining his friends pain, and that lack of imagination bars him from sympathy. He may intellectually rationalize that his friend is reasonable, and therefore must have a reason for expressing agony, but he cannot truly empathize.
Our pasts are our gifts to our future friends and family. All of our shared experiences bind us together in a way we could not be bound if it weren’t for mutual suffering and mutual love. Every blah day and every dreary evening make up part of a bigger global picture, one in which we are part of a universal community. Our microwaved lunches and lemonades on the porch, or tearful arguments and celebrations are all part of the picture that makes up humanity.
Cherish it. Cherish the heartache and the bliss. Cherish the doldrums and the excitement. Cherish even the pain and agony, as that pain reminds you of your humanity. And it reminds you of something greater, of the Son of Man come down to earth to walk in our skin, to share in our humanity, and even to suffer.
The Word became Flesh, and dwelt among us…