“I’m in pain, but it’s a beautiful pain” was the recent response given when I asked a loved one how they were feeling after surgery. Obviously the pain from the surgery paled in comparison to the pain before. The pain was welcomed in a sense.
In my own life, pain 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 13 weeks and left the office with my own heart shattered. A perfectly formed baby completely still on the ultrasound with no heartbeat. No reason. No definite explanation. And no ability to understand or make sense of it. But now I look at my healthy baby girl born less than a year later and I am okay with the pain. It’s a painful memory I will always remember, but the sting of it has dulled. I would go 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 has a tendency to avoid suffering and will go to extremes to alleviate it. For example, think of all the corny one liners that are said at a funeral….”they are in a better place,”....”at least they aren’t suffering any more”...or my personal favorite, “it was part of God’s plan.” Why do people say these things that offer zero comfort to the bereaved? Because they feel the need to alleviate pain. 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 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.