“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional” – Haruki Murakami.
It is amazing how we wrongly brand and interpret pain. The worst form of pain is actually a pain that is misinterpreted. The one most important thing about pain is that it demands not only to be felt but also to be well interpreted. Walter Anderson said, “Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.”
Pain is most times God’s age-long method of communicating with man. When you experience pain in a relationship, at your workplace, or in your body, it is not the pain that is the problem. Pain is a symptom of a deeper problem, but the most sympathetic thing about man is we look for ways to treat the pain instead of treating the problem. We need to have a renewed perspective towards pain. The inevitability of pain makes it, most times, an unavoidable part of life. It is then obvious that the best way to master pain is to have a renewed perspective about it. Pain is a ‘messenger’ and not the ‘tormentor’. When I have a constant headache, it may be that I have not been having enough sleep, or not taking enough water or maybe I have too much sugar in my blood. The headache is actually calling my attention towards resolving the actual problem.
Joel Osteen said, “You may have had unfair things happen to you, but the depth of your pain is an indication of the height of your future”. We need to understand the components of pain in a bid to evolve a new perspective towards it. What are these components of P.A.I.N? I have streamlined them using the four letters in the word ‘PAIN’ for easy remembrance. ‘P’ is for PURPOSE, ‘A’ is for ATTENTION, ‘I’ is for INSTRUCTION and ‘N’ is for NURTURE.
#1 PURPOSE: Our pain most times carries within it our core purpose. Whatever irritates you the most is what you’ve been called to deal with in life. Rick Joyner once said, “If our life is always easy, it is because we are called to a lesser purpose”. There is a correlative nexus between PAIN and PURPOSE. Your purpose is hidden in your pain. Until you see the purpose in your pain, your pain will remain painful. Did you ever stop and wonder why you experience pain? Have you ever assessed your pain to find out the purpose of it? Most people miss out of their purpose because they live their life trying to avoid pain or look for something to protect them from it. Pain does not destroy a man; it reveals him to himself! In fact, the more difficult a pain is, the more discoveries you make in the process of resolving it.
In one of her articles-‘Life Beyond Abuse’-Joyce Meyer chronicled how she was sexually, mentally, emotionally, and verbally abused by her father until she left home at age of eighteen. She shared how she was raped continuously for at least 200 times by her own father! The anguish, pain, and fear left an indelible scar on her self-esteem, but it is amazing how this same woman has grown over the years to write countless articles and books on topics that are related to abuse, self-esteem, confidence, forgiveness, rejection, gratitude, fear, addiction, and habits; topics that were gleaned out of her raw experience in overcoming her childhood abuse.
We must interpret our pain through the lens of God’s purpose. Mark Batterson captured it well when he said: “It’s not our experiences that make us or break us. It’s our interpretation of an explanation for those experiences that ultimately determines who we become. Your explanations are more important than your experiences”.
#2 ATTENTION: The easiest way to get a man’s attention is through pain. When we shift attention from the most important things too trivial things, pain comes in to redirect our attention. Pain ultimately puts a demand on us to re-arrange our priorities, re-evaluate our values, and re-focus our attention on the things that really matter. Your attention matters for destiny fulfillment, and pain will continuously come until we give attention to the most important things of life. Your pain can redirect you to a more fruitful future if you allow it. A constant and unresolved pain in a relationship may be calling your attention to the fact that you are with the wrong person. When it hurts, try to observe. Life is trying to teach you something.
#3 INSTRUCTION: Benjamin Franklin once said, “That which hurts, also instructs.” The truth is that there is always an instruction in every painful experience. The pain will leave once it has finished teaching you. When people refuse to learn by instruction, they will ultimately learn by destruction! It is good to sometimes pause in our moments of pain and ask ourselves this sincere question: “What is God saying to me in my pain? Until you get the message in your pain, your pain will persist. Rumi said, “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.” Facing pain is inevitable; learning from them is optional. Those things which hurt us can also teach us something as well. The pain will keep coming until we finally learn the lessons. C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world”.
#4 NURTURE: It is a common saying that there are no gains without pains. Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher, famously said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” There are some pains that are meant to prepare and nurture us for greater adversity. There is a school of thought that believes that pain carries within itself a transformative power. Whether it is a trauma, heartbreak, setback, or any other form of pain, it is psychologically believed that pain leaves us stronger! Dalai Lama said, “There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength’. No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” Another reason we think pain may be transformative is that we see variants of this process around us. Bacteria that are not killed entirely by an antibiotic will mutate and become resistant to it. People who go through the hardship of training tend to improve their performance. Some people just go through life, but mastering your pain makes you grow through life. Ernest Hemingway said, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places”. Many times, tough times help to discover the strength we never knew was within. Kahlil Gibran said, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”. Don’t let pain define you, let it refine you.
John Aughey said, “God brings men into deep waters, not to drown them, but to cleanse them.” Growth in painful. Change is painful. Often it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self. In fact, the more you’re hurt, the more you’ll change. Problems are the price you pay for progress. Learning to face your pain will ultimately bring clarity.
Oprah Winfrey said, “Turn your wounds into wisdom”. Contrary to popular opinion, your pain is not your ‘punisher’; it is actually your best friend! It will ensure you find your purpose. It will get your attention and ensure you don’t remain in the wrong places and with the wrong people. It will instruct you so that you can avoid impending destruction. It will nurture you to outgrow your groaning. Don’t groan through your pain, grow through your pain. Next time, you experience pain, see it in a renewed light. Don’t take your pain personal, take it with a renewed perspective. Lance Armstrong said, “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”
“You must go through that short-term pain to reach long-term gains. A meaningful life is about growth, not comfort”- Maxime Lagacé
Originally published on LinkedIn
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