Life can be painful. Perhaps we’ve experienced loss and we have a painful memory, or maybe we have an ailment or an injury that just won’t let up. That throbbing ache can be a constant reminder that something isn’t quite right. And when we were children, we had growing pains, or maybe we fell off our bike and scraped our knee…and we cried out in pain. We just can’t avoid pain in life, it’s part of the human condition.
When I was a senior in college, I played baseball and we had a game on April Fool’s Day. It was a cool misty day, typical for New England in April, and I was having a lot of pain in the side of my knee. It had gotten to the point where I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to run very well. I think the trainer said it was tendinitis and it would not let up. It felt hot and painful. But it didn’t last much longer. In the middle of the game there was a pickoff attempt at first base. I was playing shortstop, so I sprinted to cover second base as the runner left first. As the throw and runner arrived at the same time I lunged for the throw and the runner didn’t let up. He crashed into my lower leg, breaking both bones, leading to an excruciating and ugly injury. I immediately fell to the ground and saw what had happened to my leg, and I now had a new pain unlike any other I had ever felt. I went into shock and was more afraid than I had ever been before. That was a great deal of pain, and after surgery and several months of rehab, my tendinitis was completely cured!
I tell that story to share a little bit of my past as well as an example of some pain I have experienced. But we know it doesn’t stop there. Pain continues throughout life in different ways; physically, psychologically, and emotionally. We all know the pain of losing loved ones. So, what I have learned about pain in my life?
First, pain is an indicator. It’s an attention getter. If you have a constant pain in your neck (other than your husband), then you know what it’s like. It’s telling you something is wrong, and you probably need to do something about it. Second, if it’s something you can’t fix quickly, or at all, there are lessons to be learned about patience, endurance, and humility. And I mean the positive kind of humility where a person needs to be humble and ask for help. And lastly, I’ve learned that pain is temporary, and it has no memory. I remember lying on the ground at second base that cold April day, and I recall with certainty that it was painful, but I can’t remember the exact feeling of that pain. It was temporary and then it was gone. That’s probably all we can hope for, that our pain will be temporary. This reminds me of the quote, “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” Even in pain, we have a choice to make. Oh, and the last thing I learned is that sometimes it’s better to give up the base…
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”