Pain and injury can grind us to a halt at what feels like the most inconvenient times.
It is so easy to slip into the dark parts of our minds when we are not at peak productivity. The ideologies of our society are built on the illusion of productivity. If we are not productive, do we really have a purpose?
Yes, it is true that we must pay our bills, and the majority of us must purchase food for our bellies. Being productive means earning potential, and money is a medium of exchange in our world. But meaning is found in life beyond anything we can purchase. Without productivity, without the hustle, without the material items, what are we? Who are we?
Pain is a wonderful gift to look deeply at where there are holes in our self-worth. When we have to sit out and heal, when we are forced to ask for help, does our inner being crumble?
Constantly pushing through is an effective way of pushing our own needs and emotions aside. As humans, possessing the evolved emotional brain that we do, our needs are never really pushed away. The wounds, the struggles, the emotions will always be lurking, waiting for an opportunity for us to process them. And what better time for that than when there is nothing for us to do but be still?
Pain has taught me to sit with the wounds of my heart, to seriously look at the traumas of my life, and to bring them out of the shadows. I had the most beautiful realizations—in these strifes sit my gifts, and within these gifts sit my purpose.
I struggled for many years with a deep longing to find the meaning of my life. I felt a void no matter how much money I had in the bank or how many possessions I had accumulated. I knew I was contributing good to the world, but it never felt good enough.
After giving birth and breastfeeding twins, my lower back pain crept back into my life. I woke up every morning with gripping spasms, sweating, with the effort to simply get out of bed. Rage consumed me as my self-worth crumbled. A dark cloud followed me overhead, and the only meaning I had in my life were my three incredible children. I was mortified at my inner turmoil and did all I could in my power to appear like I was enjoying life.
The more I swept my emotions under the rug and ignored my intuition, the stronger the pain currents pulsed. One evening, I heard the sweet familiar song of a robin. I followed the sound of it, hobbling along a trail without really knowing why. As I reached the bird, I saw the sky drenched in a rich sunset, the orange colour of the sacral chakra, and I cried. For the first time in years, tears freely flowed down my face, and I felt joy come back into my heart.
In that moment, I experienced a oneness with nature. I realized that my presence on this planet was necessary and that I had a lot of work to do. I was finding beauty that led me to compassion for myself. And that compassion is my gift.
The greatest moments of meaning for me have been sitting and listening to people’s stories of their struggle with pain. I am able to offer compassion because I understand, on a cellular level, the toll pain takes on us. I know the feeling of being overwhelmed and shutting down, not being able to connect with others, and not feeling like I had a purpose because I couldn’t be productive.
If you are suffering and feeling like there is nothing to grasp onto, I urge you to trust that you are here to make a difference. Maybe your meaning today comes from showing kindness to the overwhelmed barista. Maybe it is looking into someone’s eyes and telling them they are going to be okay. Maybe your meaning today is simply showing yourself compassion and allowing your body to rest.
There is no shame in stillness. Allow your emotions to surface and lead you to the hurt. In that hurt, you will find where you have been wounded, and it is in healing those wounds that you will find your strength.
Your gifts reside within these strengths, and I promise you that by expressing that beauty, you will bring meaning and purpose into your life.