It’s been awhile…got me a new hip and I’m walking straight for the first time in more than two years (yes I’m comfortable with the double entendre). Now that I’m on the other side, I realize how pain had become part of my “new normal”. As I sit here, I wonder how the hell I made it (like childbirth, I remember the pain in a remote and detached way… otherwise I wouldn’t have had more than one). I also am aware how that pain challenges perception, response and interaction with the world. I think the same is true for people who are going through all different manifestations of pain, be it physical, spiritual, mental or emotional. Pain changes how we see and hear things, it just does. Like many polarities that exist in the world today, I think in the extremes, pain can take us down a rabbit hole of darkness and de-evolution or upward toward enlightenment and greater evolution.
I think most people fall somewhere in the middle, and have some days better than others. For me, I am in constant awareness of how my pain affected my life, and is one of the reasons that I began to paint, draw, make jewelry, read and do brain puzzles whenever I wasn’t working. I needed something good to come of it, and to save my sanity and the relationships that kept me moving upward and onward instead of down a rabbit hole of pessimism (my great fear), isolation and anger. I had a daily pattern of reprimanding myself every time I started to think, “why me?, or poor me,” or lean into the appalling lack of empathy and stupidity in this world. While you may have other triggers that pain induces, those are mine. I had to willingly work hard to not just let go and fall into the whirlpool that would bring me downward into blame, judgement and self pity. Remarkably, that focus kept the pain abated enough that, hopefully anyway, I never lost my true self.
I also observed that people all react to pain in their own unique way, which like love, makes sense because we are all built of unique stuff and walk a unique path. Different isn’t better than, but it doesn’t take long to see where different responses can become more pathological than proactive. Without passing judgement, my own pain help me see more clearly when another’s pain begins to cloud judgment and then begins to circumvent healthy attitudes and beliefs. While I’m struggling to explain how, this is where application of all I’ve learned over the past years acted as my foundation and direction on how to move through it. Much of what I use to move forward is rooted in Scripture. Love, mercy, forgiveness, hope, etc and all the how to’s that come along with Christ’s teachings were the very mechanism for me to decide on a daily basis if I was moving forward or backward.
The bottom line, is the profound understanding that we all are in, at any given time, different kinds of pain, and that our response to each other should have that very notion in mind, whether it is apparent or not. Kindness, being slow to anger, patience, mercy…all the things any person who declares themselves a Christian should know. If you don’t and can’t see others as if they were Christ, you may be going down the wrong road. That last statement was hard for me because it sounds harsh…but truly ask yourself if your pain is moving you up, or down. No one else can change that direction but you.