There’s the story of a Rabbi who told his students that if they studied the Torah it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, “Why on our hearts, and not in them?” The Rabbi answered, “Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your hearts, and then when your hearts break, the holy words fall inside.”
This parable marches us toward the top two things we need to know about pain:
1. We learn more from pain than from facts.
I once believed reading books on humility would make me more humble, more forgiving, and more loving. It was never enough. It often takes pain to throat-punch the pride out of me. It has taken doses of pain to break my heart so that humility might fall inside. No, I’m not saying I’m humble (Ha! How prideful!). But I gotta believe from time to time little humility sprigs poke through my life like wild flowers through cracked concrete.
2. We grow more from pain than from comfort.
Celebrity actor, Rob Lowe, writes, “You stop growing emotionally the very moment you become famous.” Fame and fortune makes it very easy to pad one’s life from pain. Yet the same goes for for us regular folk who go out of our way to cushion and comfort our lives from pain. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for that. Nevertheless, it’s inescapable.
It’s nearly impossible to do pain well. We don’t start with what we might learn from it, but with how we might run from it. It’s easy to read books on personal growth while sipping ice coffee at Starbucks. Yet, as Lowe implies, it’s pain that deepens the roots and brings the fruit.
I’m not saying we should be masochistic for crying out loud. But we forget we aren’t entitled to a pain-free life either. And as I mentioned before, avoiding or numbing all pain is impossible anyway. So what to do with it, then?
Learn from it.
Grow from it.
Be stronger for it.
And share the lessons you’ve learned with others so that when their hearts break, wisdom will fall inside.
What lessons have you learned that you can share with us here?
If you liked this post, you might also like my post on “How Suffering Sets You Apart In Your Career.”