Hello Pain, My Old Friend
We all feel it, struggle with it, suffer through it.
I am exceedingly grateful for pain, for it, in and of itself, can be quite illuminating. Pain, if I’m listening to it, can tell me a lot about my current situation:
It can tell me when something is wrong within myself.
It can tell me when a perceived wrong is being committed against me.
It can tell me tell me when I've exceeded my limits. Like when I've pushed myself too far (or not cross-trained enough) and suffered a repetitive-use injury, a sprained ankle, or a pulled muscle. (To clarify: where physical training is concerned, I am not a "no pain, no gain" kind of guy. Or, at least, not in the way such things are often preached and practiced here in the west. I think such an approach is ridiculous and harmful.)
It can tell me when I haven't pushed far enough and suffered the resulting pangs of guilt that arise from half-hearted, easy-way-out behaviors.
It can tell me how important something is to me. (Or, how unimportant it is if losing it doesn't really feel like a loss.)
It can tell me, too, when I'm doing the right things in the right way or just doing my work well.
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Given the above, it's hard for me to conclude how this kind of pain could be anything but a really good friend. To befriend such a friend, though, requires something of me:
That I feel it.
That I listen to it.
That I respond to it accordingly.
In my earlier years, I was scolded often for taking what my parents called “the path of least resistance.” Are you familiar with that phrase? I certainly am, as I've traversed such fruitless paths far too many times.
In my nearly 54 years of stumbling around on this planet, I've concluded that the path of least resistance—the easy way out—is the path of loss. I write this because everyone loses out when such wide, multi-lane highways are taken. In fact, the easy way out FAR more often than not results in missed opportunities, broken relationships, and shattered dreams.
But taking the path of greatest resistance—the way that hurts, the way that requires heart—is the best way and, ultimately (as well as paradoxically), the path of greatest ease, growth, and illumination.
Jesus believed this. In fact, He went out of His way to take the difficult road of sorrow and aloneness. And in Him we have a fabulous example of how to live. All He asks is that we follow Him.
Pain is your friend, my friend. (How's that for a refrigerator magnet!) Or it can be if you'll let it teach you its wisdom. As Mr. Miaggi once said to a young Daniel Laruso in Karate Kid: “Not Miaggi rule, Danielson. Rule of life.” Amen.
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