Life is an invitation to pain. When a person spends all of their time attempting to avoid that pain they usually create more pain. Think of a child being born. Think of the risk the parents are taking. (Incidentally, this is sometimes cited as a reason to not have kids). Think about marriage. We all know about the risk of divorce.

But what if you make it? What then? I recently heard a man talk who is 87. His wife of many years died in January. Think of that pain. He scrunched his face together has he talked. Eighty-seven years of life lines jumped off his face as his hand massaged his temple. His admission came out clear, and concise if not somewhat complicated.

“I wanted to die. I was angry. We had always wanted to die together and that didn’t happen. Now, I was alone.”

The real problem isn’t the pain. The real problem is how we handle the pain or our attempts to avoid the pain. When we attempt to avoid the pain at all costs, we actually still encounter pain. It’s just a different pain. We have to accept the fact that pain is part of life. Pain can be managed, but not eliminated. What we actually eliminate from our life is relationships. Of course, those have their own risks, but they are also almost always the instrument to healing from the very pain we are experiencing. Instead of the removing the disease (pain), we remove the means to healing.

It’s not that life can’t be so much more than pain.

It can.

It should be.

But that’s the rub; We have to accept the core of what is before we can accept the possibilities of what could be. Too many people actually encounter more pain because they are always chasing the elusive, mythical, mystical pain free life.

Marriage gets hard? Get a divorce.

Kids make choices you don’t like? Cut them off.

Friend frustrates you? Exit the relationship.

Got a job where the relationships are hard? Get a new job or go on unemployment.

I believe our expectations shape our reactions. I am afraid that too many people spend too much of their time denying that fact. No matter what you do, there will be pain and conflict in your life. Accepting that truth is one of the key steps to actually having a healthy and productive life.

Life is. What we do with what life is matters the most. When we get stuck avoiding pain at all costs, we avoid doing things that matter. Because anything that matter involves risk and probably pain. When we get stuck doing things that don’t really matter, we experience real frustration and angst. This usually leads to more pain and frustrations. Investing in relationships brings healing. is healing

The gentleman that I heard talk. When he talked about his healing, he talked about the relationships that helped him heal.

How about you? How have relationships helped you heal?

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  1. Well said. I very much agree. As difficult as it is to acknowledge or see at that time, there is so much value in suffering. It means you experienced something so great and moving in your life and it is/was meaningful. We lose so much by trying to avoid it. Perseverance is a lost value. Things get difficult and we quit; it’s observed constantly in relationships and work.

  2. Hi Stacy,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You are so right that perseverance is a lost value. I think it just doesn’t fit with some other values our society currently has and of course, we’re going to have to decide which values we want to shape our life.

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