I stabbed myself! I stabbed myself in the hand…again! I stabbed myself in the hand again and with a butter knife! Why do I do these things? I’m quite amused as I recall the moment and how inept I felt as the dull blade plunged into my skin. The pain was excruciating for a moment yet I was laughing!
At work we purchased chair racks over 2 years ago but the chairs are used constantly, so they never need stacking. Taking up valuable space, the rack had to go! Plastic caps covered the end of the frame and I had to remove the caps to get to the screws to disassemble the rack. Sounds like the rhyme, “There was an old woman who swallowed a fly…” doesn’t it? I didn’t have the proper tools so, in the spirit of manhood I improvised, I adapted and . . . I stabbed myself! With the butter knife in the right hand and the frame in the left, my brain shifted gears into “D” for “Dumb Moment Ahead” because I was just too focused on getting that darn cap off! Ouch!
Earlier this week I wrote a piece called, The Beauty of Pain. In it I briefly surveyed three reasons why I think pain is beautiful. It unites, it alerts and it awakens. Today, I want to take the time, while this is fresh in my mind, to go over three more reasons why I think pain is beautiful.
We’ve all heard the anecdotal story about the child and hot burner on the kitchen stove. The child is told that she will get hurt if she touches the burner but the kid must see for herself. So, the youngster touches it and gets fried! Told ya’ so! That’ll teach her! And it does. Pain is an excellent tutor when it comes to life lessons. Sure, we’d rather learn through pleasantries and keep our loved ones from injury, but it seems that we learn most comprehensively through pain. This is true not just with physical and emotional pain but in just about anything we may fail at. Ask Thomas Edison about his many light bulb failures and the sharp lessons learned – I know you can’t but you get the idea. Pain teaches!
Speaking of sharp lessons, I love knives! I have a multitude. Not as many as some, but more than most. And just like with the butter knife, I have scars from using them. The most unforgettable is on my left thumb. I “installed it” two years ago when I went winter camping with some guys. Yes, I said winter camping! It was February and we were sitting around the fire freezing our marshmallows off. The snow was coming down and we had just finished an amazing meal of flame-grilled pork chops. We eat very well when we camp. As I wriggled my tongue in my mouth to fish out remnants of dinner from between my teeth, an idea struck me! I’ll use my brand-new Kabar knife to make a toothpick out of a piece of firewood. That for sure would be a manly thing to do! So, in the process of whittling a log into a sliver, I used my knife in a very poor, uncontrolled way.
The Emergency room nurse was very friendly. With my hand stained with soot, blood and pork fat, he glued my thumb up nice and tight and sent me back to my tent. I learned something from that, but I seem to forget from time to time the lessons pain sears into my mind. I’m definitely a work in progress!
“I’ll never let that happen again!” Many of us have been around the block enough to be schooled in some level of pain. Most of us either seek out or have found others who share that same education. That was in my earlier post about pain; it unites us to others. But pain also solidifies our resolve to make a difference in our lives or other’s. How many young men and women became advocates because of the pain they personally experienced? I suspect, if we did a thorough survey of history, we’d see that a lot of social change took place because of this very truth; Rosa Parks comes to mind. Pain solidifies our resolve to make an alteration in our lives or the lives of others.
Let me tell you a brief, true story of a woman whose life was forever altered due to her personal pain. She was quite skilled at raising a family and caring for the home even though she also worked as an executive secretary part time. She didn’t have the best of marriages, but she made it work. As the children grew up, her marriage grew apart and the problems and pain inflamed. One day, with the kids gone, her spouse became verbally and physically antagonizing. She feared for her wellbeing and not being a particularly dull-minded woman, she secured a restraining order. With that the marriage slid completely sideways and ended in a brutal divorce process that endured for 3 years. In the midst of her legal wrangling she transformed into an advocate. Volunteering at a local women’s abuse shelter, she began to offer counsel to ladies half her age whose marriages had also slide 90 degrees from true. Her personal pain had solidified her resolve to make a difference, and she did so until the day of her death.
I can’t take your pain away but I can help you to put it in its proper place. The letter from James in the Newer Testament of the Bible say that we are to consider all our trials, our pain, as joy because they can prove our faith to be genuine as it’s tested through the fire of these trials. This helps us to develop perseverance that in turn can cultivate a stronger character and maturity. If we accept this mentality, offered by James, we’ll find that pain can mature our character. It’s a hard road, but God promises great benefits if we choose to view trials and pain as He does.
Pain definitely teaches us the boundaries that we need to keep and help others establish. Whether it’s a hot burner on a stove – I bet the little girl will teach her son the same lesson one day – or how to select a good spouse, pain teaches us how to evaluate the environment we live in. It also solidifies our resolve to be more watchful and caring of our own lives and, hopefully, those around us as well as facilitating in our maturing.
Some of you may be writhing in pain. Whether it’s emotional, physical, spiritual or other doesn’t matter. Answers as to why the pain is taking place can be elusive. Rather, focus on the benefits that pain can bring. It can unite us to others, it can alert us to dangers, it can awaken us to life and most especially it can assist us by teaching us proper boundaries, solidifying our resolve to, “Never let this happen again, ever!” and helping us in our emotional maturity. Although it’s easy, don’t get overwhelmed by the negatives that pain brings. Try to understand the beauty of why God allows pain – with all its positives – if you can. I’m with ya. Now, where’s my machete?