The teeter-totter of life seesaws us between joy and angst.
The manic shift between the two occurs without our deliberate permission or willful desire. Still, life happens, and we get hurt. Pain is a necessary reality of living. Wounds scar the psyche and remind us we are fallible yet growing. Growth comes from pain, from learning, from moving toward our potential. Growth is designed to hurt so we never forget the lesson of the pain.
Monsters are not created in the shadows, but in front of innocent eyes forced to label the unthinkable. At four years old, I watched a terrible incident happen between close family members. The blade pierces the heart when we realize the monster also lives within. I am a monster too. You cannot see the monster inside me because I would rather suffer with my story than let the truth be known.
Pain is an inevitability we cannot escape, nor should we try. The painful experiences of living contain the precious lessons and blessings we seek when we question our existence, our path, our reason for being. These lessons are the pearls we seek to better know ourselves and our fellow inhabitants on this hurling rock called Earth. Pain is the connection to our collective humanity.
Yet, we do not seek out pain—or do we? We grasp for notions like happiness or cling to a belief in necessary suffering. We ignore our wounds while praying to forget our sadness. We hope to see the world as good and right, but our mind cons us into believing we are unlovable, worthless, and flawed as we try to fit into society’s current version of “perfection.”
So, we choose suffering because it is often easier than facing the truth. Our wounds are necessary for our survival. We must experience sorrow and agony so we may find joy and kindness. We can never know good without bad, right without wrong, success without failure. The yin and yang of living is not a battle between good and evil, it is an acceptance of pain. We have been looking at the continuum all wrong. Pain is a friend and foe.
Men are not monsters. Asking for help does not imprison us as helpless. These stories are wounds, which are reminders of the pain we are capable of inflicting upon ourselves. These are lessons which honor the challenges of living in the torrential waters of life. I am not a fraud shielding my inner monster from view; I am just a flawed human who is learning to accept my lessons as blessings.
Our wounds do not automatically intern us in suffering. We choose suffering just like we choose happiness. Suffering is the acceptance of victimhood. Suffering traps us into believing we are weak and frail. Suffering is the acquiescence to pessimistic judgment while choosing to ignore the brilliance of imperfection. We are not born perfect. We will certainly die the same way we arrived.
If suffering is indeed a choice, then we also have the power and authority to seek a different path. The only barriers keeping us from joy are our thoughts and attitudes. Let’s reframe our pain from fiend to ally and recognize our wounds as unique plots in the story of life. These are lessons and blessings we can sincerely share with our fellow spiritual travelers. We can revert to our ancient storytelling ways like our ancestors huddled around the sacred campfires espousing the virtues of a meaningful life.
Our experiences empower us with a story, a lesson to share. Our pain is a gift which has the power to transform lives. Stop being selfish. Stop wallowing in a choice. Find meaning in your stories and your wounds will not only heal your soul, but also others as well.
Author: Chad Cryder
Editor: Travis May