“Every problem introduces a person to himself.” - John McDonald.
When it comes to pain, I try to get through it as quickly as possible. I don’t want to feel it. I
don’t want to be uncomfortable! I’ve never thought of pain as anything but a nuisance or at best a catalyst for getting me to change.
However, I am learning more about how to be a good husband, a good father, and a masculine male. I am discovering that there is much more to pain than I realized. Pain and failure offer much more than a catalyst to spur growth. Engaging in pain and exploring what is revealed about you offers exponentially more benefit than figuring out only how to get past the pain.
This makes a lot of sense when reflecting on the process blacksmiths used to forge tools. They place iron into a furnace, and it heats it up to where the iron is malleable. Then the Smithy removes the iron from the fire to work it. To remove the scaling of impurities and to shape them into a usable object. However, rarely is this completed in a one-cycle process. Typically the iron is placed back into the furnace to heat it up to bring more impurities to the surface. This keeps the iron malleable for shaping and stronger through each iteration of the process.
Stop The Process of Pain
Stopping the process of pain, after one is perceived to be out of the furnace, will limit the potential to be transformed into an effective object. The process that pain was providing falls short. There may be an improvement in life, and a discernible tool may have begun to take shape. Ultimately, the tool is incomplete. It won’t be able to do the job it was meant for at its’ ideal ability. More shaping and refining are required. Which means more pain is needed. But if the entire process of pain is used, a dull tool becomes a sharp tool, and the effectiveness of the tool reaches its potential.
It seems like a shame to endure pain and only get a small benefit. If the pain is going to happen, we might as well get as much from it as we can. Pain and failure and loss are inevitable in our life. But the funny thing about pain is the more that we learn to endure it and we learn from it the easier it is to diminish the agony it causes and process it in the future.
In my mid-20s I had a close friend that lived about an hour away. Once a week we would meet halfway from each other at a wing restaurant. And being young 20-somethings we wanted to show our machismo. We would eat the hottest wings we could possibly eat. We would start out by eating a couple of wings and then stop and wash the pain (capsaicin) out of our mouths.
This wasn’t a wise strategy because the next wing would bring a high level of pain right back. Soon we realized that if our mouth is on fire already, we should just keep eating the wings because as we ate the wings, the heat began to dissipate naturally. We were able to level up the heat very quickly by not quenching the burn in between wings. Within a couple of months, we would order the hottest wings possible and eat them like they had no sauce on them at all. The pain (capsaicin) was still there. Yet the level of suffering had changed because we had learned to endure it, we didn’t focus on the pain, we focused on the comradery.
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
1 Peter 1:6-7
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
If we receive pain as a guide we will learn to endure it and be able to lead others by our example. We stop worrying about the circumstances of this world and focus on where God is leading us.
Go, and outlive your limits!