"I'm in pain, but it's a beautiful pain" was the recent response I received when I asked a loved one how they were feeling after surgery. I could tell from the response that the pain post-surgery paled in comparison to the pain experienced before. This new pain was welcomed in a sense.
In my own life, the discomfort has often been a beautiful gift in disguise. A beautiful pain. Like the time I went to the doctor to hear my baby's heartbeat at thirteen weeks and walked out of the office with my own heart shattered. A perfectly formed baby on the ultrasound, but yet something wasn't right as I stared at that screen and held my breath. The baby was completely still and there was no illumination signaling blood flow or a heartbeat.
No reason or satisfactory explanation. No ability to understand or make sense of it. Only an empty womb and a due date that is now an anniversary. But now I look at my healthy baby girl born less than a year later, and I have made peace with the pain. It's a bitter memory that I will not forget, but the sting of it has dulled. I would walk through that journey a thousand times over knowing that it led to the present tense I live in now.
The truth is that no one wants the gift of pain, and no one welcomes it. If I were to tell my children that I'm going to give them the gift of pain for Christmas, it would not go over well. Western culture, in particular, has a tendency to avoid suffering and will go to extremes to alleviate it, hence a society that is in massive debt and saturated in addiction.
We say one-liners to the bereaved that are anything but helpful because of our own inability to enter the suffering and make room for it. We say things like, " they are in a better place" or "at least they aren't suffering anymore" or my personal favorite (note the sarcasm), "it was part of God's plan."
Pain is associated with suffering which is derived from the Latin word "ferre", meaning "to bear or to carry." If I bear something, it means I suffer patiently. It means, "I'm in pain, but maybe...just maybe, it's a beautiful pain." Maybe someday I'll look back and realize that today's pain is necessary for the unfolding of my tomorrow. Maybe the pain I feel right now is about who I'm becoming because let's face it, without some pressure, we would often remain stuck and the same. Maybe the pain I feel now is a gift and maybe I need to be careful in saying that I don't want it. Because the pain I forfeit today might be a gift that I forfeit tomorrow.