Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Is Your Pain A Blessing? No? Look Closer.

Maybe you know what it feels like going through a painful experience, and all you can see is the pain. Each morning you wake up is just like yesterday, and you feel like it will never end. I think that's how most of us see our suffering when it happens. But have you ever looked back on a painful experience and realized it really was a blessing? When you do, that realization itself is a blessing.

The problem is not that we have problems. The  problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem. Theodore Tubin

We live in a dualistic world where everything has an opposite--joy or sadness, inner bondage or freedom, peace or anxiety, bumps in the road or smooth sailing--everything. And we see experiences as either good or bad. No one goes through life with only one or the other. We must experience both. But the quality of our life often depends upon how we interpret our experiences, and the labels we put on them. Our life is what we see and how we respond to it.

A couple months ago I wrote about finding meaning in your suffering, but it goes a step further. Meaning can cause you to look deeper into yourself, discover hidden talents and abilities, and even turn you in a new direction. How wonderful to see some meaning in those difficult times. But do you ever see that meaning as a true blessing in your life--one in which you feel the joy of knowing you don't need to be afraid when life throws you a curve that pains your heart? That's a blessing.

Sometimes in tragedy we find our life's purpose--the eye sheds a tear to find its focus. Robert Brault

You may find some meaning in your suffering during a painful experience or soon after it subsides, but sometimes it takes some looking back to see the blessing. In my book, Silent Echoes, I describe my years of suffering with depression, my suicide attempt , and 2 1/2 years of therapy. Then my life took a miraculous turn. I wanted to work in the mental health field, so I went back to school, and with training in Psychotherapy my life had meaning.

But it was not until I began my work that I suddenly came to the profound realization that my years of suffering had actually been a blessing as preparation for the work I was meant to do. Now I understood how my patients felt, I could feel their pain, and I was better able to serve them with compassion. Those lost years had purpose, and with heartfelt gratitude they became a blessing I hadn't seen. And I was blessed.

We can't escape life's challenges, but we don't have to meet them with fear, devastation, and helplessness. We can look with wiser eyes and allow the adversity to reveal what we might not see otherwise. You don't need to curse the darkness you feel inside. The light is always there if you look past the pain, knowing there's a blessing in the experience as it unfolds. When you're going through a difficult time, say to yourself, "Somewhere there's a message in this." Then go within and ask for it to be revealed to you. It may be just enlightenment to help you on your personal journey. But whatever it is, if the answer doesn't come right away, know that one day it will. So it's worth the wait. And you will be blessed.

I wish you blessings unfolding in your life.


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