Pain Can Be a Facilitator

I have a couple of incredible stories to tell:

A friend of mine and his wife celebrated the birth of a baby not long ago. The story of the baby's birth is pretty incredible. He had been at the gym, she was having contractions... timing things - all was normal. Aways into his work out, he noticed a couple missed calls from his wife. He finished a few sets, and headed home. I guess things had progressed rapidly, and the baby was coming NOW!

As soon as they got home, they jumped in his new sports car and started racing - literally breaking traffic laws, running red lights, swerving in and out of traffic to get his wife to the hospital. SHE WAS IN PAIN!!!

At one point on the way to the hospital, they get pulled over by a cop. My friend pulls over, gets out, goes and tells the cop he has to go, he get back in the car, and drives away just as crazy as before. Her water breaks IN THE CAR! She is yelling: I have to push! It is coming!

Within 30 seconds, LITERALLY - of his wife getting into the hospital bed, she had completely delivered the baby... no doctor, no drugs, no nothing - she was DONE. Baby is here in 30 seconds FLAT! His wife says it was the most pain she has EVER felt.

According to my friend and his wife, it was also the FASTEST recovery she has ever had... within a day (I think) she was healed and good to walk around, etc.

Here's another pain story:

My friend Vern has had both of his hips replaced, and is a healthy 60 years old. 2 weeks ago, Vern was out for a daily walk feeling great, when the titanium ball of one of his artificial hips literally breaks off - disconnecting his leg from his body, and leaving a broken fragment of the titanium hip to damage the inside of his leg.

Vern called me because I was in the area, and I was able to assist him in getting an ambulance to the scene, and get Vern some of the help he needed. I will never forget praying with Vern on the sidewalk watching his entire body shaking violently from all the pain. How grateful I am that I could be there with him that day.

Because of the severity of his injury, the need for a specific doctor to fix the issue, and other factors, Vern was in tremendous pain for 36 straight hours, and underwent 8 hours of very intense surgery. He literally went nearly 48 hours without ANY sleep. All he could do was wait in agonizing pain until the recovery from surgery could begin. The doctor said it was the longest surgery he had ever performed because of having to remove the old hardware, replace it all, and all that had gone on internally in Vern's leg.

I am happy to report that Vern's recovery has been incredible. His physical therapists and the doctor were in disbelief at his ability to walk unassisted, and without even crutches just 3 days after surgery... and he is on the go now almost like before where a traditional hip replacement recovery can take 3 months or more.

Vern and I talked the other day about why his recovery was so quick, and I thought of the quick recovery of our friends after the baby being born so quickly and without drugs. The doctor had said that in some ways perhaps the pain and lack of drugs to deaden the wounds might have contributed to Vern's speedy recovery.

In life there are instances when we recognize something painful has to happen, in order to progress. Certainly any woman facing childbirth knows that the pain will come, and has to prepare for it. Whether it is this pain, the difficulty of a career change, or confronting challenges within our selves, our families, or our relationships - the pain is VERY difficult.

In my own life, I have confronted my share of difficulty... and it HURTS! It is so difficult to deal with, and sometimes when the pain is ongoing, it is so much easier to pretend it doesn't hurt and to try and ignore it or focus on something else. (Try to deaden the pain with drugs). Like Vern going 2 straight days without sleep, and agonizing - just waiting for the resolution to be over, when I am in the most difficult times, it has felt as if life would end, minutes have seemed to take HOURS...

A tremendous blessing that I have today, is the blessing of the Pain. I know in my heart how bad it has hurt, and that there is no way I could have dealt with it alone. In many ways, I am so grateful that I have had the chance to feel - and continue to experience pain that is a small piece of the pain that was suffered by One who suffered for me, and all mankind. I have had the gift of waiting for the great Healer, who comforts me, and sets my heart at ease, and brings Peace when I feel so lost. Sometimes this can take a long time, and waiting for that peace to come can be difficult... but I am learning to trust that it will come.

Somehow, I think that pain can help the healing process begin. It can bring people closer together, and heal them faster, make their bonds stronger and relationships with themselves, with each other and with God deeper and more permanent.

I NEVER WANT TO GO THROUGH THIS KIND OF PAIN AGAIN - And it is tough to recognize that in my case, it is not over yet... but I can look back at so many blessings received and have hope - a lot of hope that pain can facilitate healing - and help me to become a stronger, better son, father, husband, provider, friend, listener, servant, leader, and person than ever before... maybe even better than I could have been if I would not have had these experiences?

I am actually anxious to "test out my new hip" every day when I wake up... and even though it can still hurt, I love the gift of life, and the hope that I can be better... and hopefully do something to bring others joy, peace, or at least help them so to not have to feel as much pain in their life.


Starting Over = Never Give Up!

In my life, I like to have a plan. Hmm... I propose that we start with A, B, C... then we move on to D, E, F, and G. As we continue things will progress through from H, all the way until we get to X, Y, and Z.

Having the plan interrupted - or feeling like the plan is interrupted can be very difficult.

I can remember putting a puzzle together with my daughter C, and my son T messing up a couple of pieces... my daughter felt so frustrated she was ready to break apart the entire puzzle and quit. She cried, "Dad! Now T messed up my puzzle I have to start all over!" She was very upset, and in that moment, "Starting Over" was the worst thing imaginable for her.

"Starting Over" as a feeling is very difficult to deal with, even for adults. My life doesn't look anything like the way I desperately want it to right now, and it is tough to admit that it is my own fault. I pray every day so hard for strength and courage to do the things necessary to help it look different than it does for the sake of my wife, my children, and so many others who are facing challenges right along with me. Making these changes and improvements takes a lot of time, and I haven't been the most patient person. Having to wait makes the feeling of "Starting Over" that much harder.

Today something happened that was very difficult for me, and I felt devastated. I felt so discouraged that similar to my daughter trying to put the puzzle back together, I felt like giving up. I blew it up and out of proportion... and much like my daughter, I was upset because I felt that I was going to have to start all over on a process that for me has been the single most difficult process in my life. In my own life, I get so scared! I don't want to start over! I want to have my life... "the puzzle" be back the way it was!!!

As a father, it is easy to look at my daughter's puzzle, and explain that "Starting Over" might simply mean "Starting From Here"... and showing her that she can take the pieces that my son messed up, and spend the time putting them back where they go.

When a day like today comes, I can feel almost crushed under the weight of having to start over. Fears that maybe I won't make it, maybe the puzzle will never come together, maybe there is no way I can do it on my own... all of this make me so afraid that a part of me wants to quit... but I don't even know what quitting would look like? (For my daughter it meant messing up the rest of the puzzle, and refusing to continue to put it back together, and running upstairs to her room).

I guess for today, Starting Over for me means to get down on my knees, pray for the courage to be better, and to "Start from here" putting the pieces together that I can... and hoping that somehow as I keep going, and never give up, the rest of the pieces will start to make sense.

In that way, I am so grateful for the strength to "Start Over" today... or to say it better - to "Start From Here". My prayer... and the only comfort I can find is that if I trust in Him, he will help me to become so much better than I ever could have been on my own, and that the finished product of my life will be more beautiful than it ever could have been if I had not chosen to Start Over, and Never Give Up.


What Might Have Been

A friend of mine said recently that the most painful, most difficult, and scariest thing we will ever have to face is "the man we might have been"...

This statement was like a punch in the stomach!

It goes along with the poem by John Greenleaf Whittier:
"For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, 'It might have been'."

What might have been if I had only made different decisions in my life? It is a scary thought to realize that someday, many years from now I will look back at those painful and critical "crossroads moments" in my life, and have to face the reality of the person I was then, and the life-long consequences of the decisions I made.

Out there, 20 years from now, the man I might have been - the man I dreamed of being - the one my children needed, and the one for whom my loved ones pleaded will look back at me in the mirror, and I will have to face him... to face them.

It is in those moments, like it or not - I'll be accountable only to myself for the tragedies I experienced and my reactions to those tragedies... and will have to ask myself "How would my life have been different, if only I would have ________________________ (fill in the blank). Who would I be? Would I be happier? What might have been if I would have chosen differently?

In this spirit I am trying with everything I have to face myself in the mirror NOW, and every day along the way... and make the decisions necessary so that in 20 years I can be better than I ever hoped.

This is not easy. In fact it continues to prove to be the greatest test I have ever encountered. This is so painful to face. It seems that recently I wonder every day if there is enough inside of me to make it, to go the distance. I plead for strength beyond my own.

The most incredible thing that I have found: There IS strength beyond my own... and it is the source of my hope that someday I will face the man that might have been, and be victorious!