In my profession, you hear a lot of pain filled stories. You hear how people’s lives have been wrecked.

Sometimes, by their own choices and often by the choices of others.

In fact, my job has taught me one thing.

Pain is inevitable for everyone.

Sometimes, we do it to ourselves

        We quit when we should have endured.

        We let our temper get the better of us.

        We break promises…

                …act rashly etc.

These mistakes cause us pain and reverberations can haunt a person.

Sometimes the pain is done to us.

        Someone betrays us

        We become the object of someone’s temper tantrum

        Someone leaves us

Acts of God occur that cost us people we love.

No matter the details, I am convinced that all of us are destined to experience pain. True, deep pain that echoes deep in our soul. Pain that causes more pain. Pain that causes our bodies to physically react.

We can try to avoid it and many people go to great lengths to do that very thing.

Unsuccessfully, but they/we try.

So what I usually do is ask people a question.

What are you learning from this pain that will help you to be a better person?

We can’t avoid pain, but we can avoid learning from it.

Too often we waste our pain.

We rant and we rail against it.

We wish for it to go away.

But we often fail to embrace it’s greatest gift; the power to change us into something that we want to become.

Pain is awful.

But it can change us. It can show us the dark corners of our hearts that we often choose to ignore. It can light up our opportunities to grow. Take the person who is going through a divorce after being cheated on in a fifteen year relationship.

That pain is real. It is awful. It is gut-wrenching.

It’s also an invitation to examine his or her own soul for what they did to contribute to the divorce and the affair. I know this is emotional dynamite. I’m not suggesting they deserved to be cheated on, but I am suggesting that failing to learn about the potential areas for growth in their own life is a waste of that very real pain.

To me, this is the greatest tragedy. To be stuck living the same cycle over and over because we’re too afraid to engage the potential of allowing the pain to transform us.

I hate pain. I do.

But I hope I don’t waste it.

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