Friday, November 15, 2013

Painfully Positive - Changing our perception of pain

As he was falling asleep last night, my 11-year old son, Sam, said, "Mom, do you have a motto?"

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"You know. A motto. Like a saying for your life."

"Not really." I said.

He said, "I do. My motto is: I'm not afraid to die, but I am afraid to not live."

He was earnest about this and I praised him, though I know he borrowed someone else's quote. It was a quiet, yet weighty moment because he's been terrified of death for over a year. Last summer he was riding in a golf cart with his cousins and it flipped over on him, pinning him to the ground. It took two men to lift it off and apparently he had a near death experience.

He won't talk much about the accident, but it changed him. It changed his perception of life and death. Though his physical scarring is mostly gone, the memory of that day most certainly is not.

His question about about my motto (or lack thereof) re-kindled a prayer question I've been asking God a lot lately…
                            What does it mean to be human?

I'd just read an article on chronic pain that stated that we Westerners - as in Americans - are the only people on earth who approach pain like we do most everything. We pop a pill and expect whatever ails us or slows us down to be instantly gone.

I find some truth in that. I do want to simply pop a pill and make the suffering disappear. The article went on to say that pain is a part of being human, and I thought,

         Well that sucks.

And then I thought about it again. My pain has also been positive. It sucks, but it isn't entirely bad. My pain and the prayer that comes with it has given me more compassion and daily teaches me patience. My pain has forced me to become gentler with others and more accepting of myself.

      And most importantly, it's drawn me closer to Jesus, the suffering servant.

Do you find that to be true? Are there positive things about your pain? I'd love to hear your story!

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