Pain is a thing that we spend a good portion of our lives trying to avoid. We take medicine to ward it off, we abstain from certain things to avoid it, we barricade our hearts against it, and we warn others to evade it. And yet we recite the mantra “No pain no gain” so deep within us, we know it has value yet we have to reconcile the need for pain and the avoidance of pain if we are ever to grow beyond where we are. I look for the beauty that pain creates…the lesson it teaches us, the way it shapes us and transforms us with its dull ache.
If you’ve had children, you know that pain, intense pain, yields the most beautiful wonderful thing- new life. Pain, in labor, has a function…it tells you when to push, it hastens birth, in forces newness into the world. It is that newness that brings the greatest beauty. My daughter, who is on the cusp of puberty, is constantly complaining about her growing pains and I remind her that all pain brings about radical transformation…she will transform from a girl to a woman urged on my those feelings of discomfort. I know she doesn’t get it now, but she will, and hopefully she will remember those moments of being uncomfortable as a source of change and not something to fear. And remember that pain, that unbearable pain, that comes from heartbreak, the end of a relationship; it teaches us, guides us to what is good and bad for us. It forever shapes our view of love from there on out. The pain of losing a loved one teaches us more about love and the expression of that love than any sappy Hallmark sentiments can. Yes, pain is the greatest teacher and it shapes the course of our lives. Pain has a transformative power like nothing else so don’t avoid it, seek it out because it tells you that the change you are so desperately seeking is coming.
I spent the last 20 years of my life being comfortable and it certainly didn’t make me happy. It had the inverse effect- keeping me anesthetized to what I needed to get to in order to find happiness. Pain has been the variable in the equation that has changed everything for me. Hunger pains have showed me that I was stronger than I thought, that I was in control, and that I was powerful. Pain in the gym gave me the evidence that I needed to know that I was building muscle, banishing fat, and getting stronger than I ever thought I could be. My trainer, Jimmy Ready (who’s at Club Fit- in case this post leaves you inspired to embrace pain) knows that I want to leave each session limping because that’s my evidence that I’m accomplishing what I’ve set out to do. Despite working out all the time, I’ve come to realize that my personal fitness goals are best fed by pain. I know if I’ve finished a workout and I’m not sore all over that I haven’t finished and keeps me going back for more and pushing harder towards my goals. Even the introduction of pain in the bedroom has transformed my relationship with my partner, deepening my trust and reliance on him to provide me with what I need to feel alive, powerful, and in control. In a world where we constantly want to be rewarded, pain provides that in the most bittersweet way. A hard day of yard work, a tough game on the field, a demanding workout that leaves you breathless and unable to walk down stairs for 2 days- pain is the applause that has value. We know we’ve worked to our capacity when pain accompanies those accomplishments. And pain promises that growth and change has happened.
Stop avoiding pain. Seek it out. Don’t stop until you find it. Allow your mind, body, and spirit to surrender to it like a baptism of blood, sweat, and tears. Know that pain has a purpose and find its purpose in your own life. Use it to start your own radical transformation and know that pain is temporary but the changes it brings will last a lifetime if you are brave enough to seek it out.