Pain is a something-hurts word. It is a dull achy word. A sharp stabbing word. A hard pounding word. A kick-in-the-knee word. It is a word we don’t want lingering too closely. Richard Rohr in his book, Everything Belongs, says that the best way to deal with pain is to learn from it.
Last summer, I endured a couple of migraines. I lay in the dark. Quiet and immovable. For two days, an invisible band constricted my head, upset my stomach, and made me cry. At the time, the only thing I learned was that I did not like pain. Now, I take some precaution to avoid future migraine pain.
But as I reflect on that pain, I can say that I learned a few things. First, I am vulnerable to pain—all pain. Physical pain, mental pain, emotional pain. I must acknowledge my weakness when exposed to pain. I must greet it and let it do its work.
Second, I learned that some pain must be endured until it has run its course. Avoidance only postpones the inevitable, or it gives the pain permission to show up in some other place.
Third, the pain eventually subsides and life returns to a somewhat normal state. However, when one is vulnerable to pain and endures it to its end, there is a small or large transformation that takes place. And the pain-bearer is never the same as before the pain.
Here is my reflective question for the day “Where is pain in my life, and what can I learn from it?”