The Lessons of Pain

There are so many things I’ve learned in life either via others or through the mistakes I’ve made. Nothing has taught me more lessons than pain. If it wasn’t for the whippings I got as a kid, I wouldn’t have learned to stop doing things I had no business doing. The pain from getting in trouble taught me what boundaries not to cross. If it wasn’t for mistakes I made in relationships early on such as dating the wrong person or allowing people to treat me a certain way, I wouldn’t have learned what I needed out of the people I choose to be in relationship with. The pain from those encounters taught me what I wanted out of relationships but most importantly what I deserved. Pain is good at opening your eyes to the areas of life you need to grow in.

Pain is a great motivator. When we find ourselves in situations where we are dealing with a lot of emotional or even physical pain we use that pain to become more determined not to get into this type of situation again. For example, I’ve had moments where I’ve said some not so nice things about someone. Whatever I said got back to that person and while I was sorry that their feelings were hurt it wasn’t until I experienced the pain of this exact thing happening to me where I learned that I needed to change. The pain from that experience motivated me to be a better person. It taught me that if you don’t want it to happen to you then don’t do it someone else. My parents would always tell us growing up to treat people the way you want to be treated. Learning the true meaning behind this saying has taught me how necessary it is to genuinely treat people the way you want to be treated.

Pain is a great boundary setter. Sometimes we find ourselves in relationships where we put a great amount of trust in someone. We convince ourselves that this person would never hurt us, lie to us, manipulate us, or mistreat us in anyway. While that person may have the goal to never do those things, people are human. They make mistakes and we often make bad decisions out of self preservation. When this person that we trust immensely does something to hurt us, whether intentional or not, it opens our eyes to how one, we’ve maybe set up an unrealistic expectation, and two, we need to set some boundaries for ourselves. It’s good to have people that you can trust and confide it. It’s good to have people who you can lean on and trust during difficult times. Relationships are meant for those reasons. That does not mean we should not have boundaries established, not to prevent us from being hurt-I believe that’s inevitable, but so that we can teach people how to treat us. It’s good for us to let those around us know what our expectations are in relationships so that can eliminate the possibility of unnecessary pain from unknown expectations.

Pain is a great reminder. Have you ever had a situation where something bad happened? You made a bad decision? Someone you knew you shouldn’t have trusted did something awful to you? You tried something one time and it didn’t go well but you tried it again anyway? We initially tell ourselves when something we don’t like happens that we’ve learned a lesson and will never do that again, but we don’t always stick to that. For instance, I am a giving person. I love helping people. If I have the means to help financially or in any other way I will do my best to make it happen. I have siblings and other relatives who would often find themselves in financial ruts and would call to borrow money. I would help them out every time that I could. When I was married to my ex we both helped out people in our family a lot. Sometimes they would pay us back and other times not so much. We’ve lost thousands of dollars helping people. You would think that alone would be the lesson to us to not loan to those same people or loan at all. Well, not initially. At least not for me.

The biggest lesson I learned from this was when I became a single mother. My finances were often really tight. I stayed on a strict budget for many years. I had a family member who was known for being shady and untruthful but, me being me, I always give the benefit of the doubt. This person asked to borrow some money and I allowed them to borrow it with the stipulation that I would have it back by a certain time because I needed it for a bill. Well that time came and passed. Reaching out to this person resolved nothing. I got no response and here I was trying to figure out how I was going to pay this bill. It was the pain from this lesson that taught me not to ever put myself in this type of situation again. And I haven’t. Every time I think of letting someone borrow money the pain of this situation kind of dings me. If I can’t afford to lose it then no one can borrow it- meaning if I’ll miss it if the person doesn’t repay me then that would be a no to them borrowing anything from me. Being remarried with a different mindset we aim now to bless. We’ll pay a bill for someone, treat someone to dinner or do whatever God leads us to do with no expectation from the other person.

Pain is great at revealing the truth. Especially about ourselves. In certain situations we experience we tend to want to put most of the blame, if not all of it on the other person. We convince ourselves that we didn’t do anything wrong, we didn’t deserve this, we are like 98% perfect so we definitely played no role in what happened. In some instances this may be slightly true, but I’ve learned in almost every situation there’s a small or significant role we played in to what happened. We can be so wrapped up in our pain that we don’t see how we are partially to blame. We don’t want to be held accountable for our actions. Going through my divorce was one of the most difficult experiences I have ever encountered in my life. Most people who have been through this experience will compare it to the loss of a loved one. You feel like someone has died that is how painful the experience is.

I wanted to and did put so much of the blame on my ex. I did not want to face the truth in how my actions played a role in and also lead to the destruction of our marriage. While he was unfaithful several times and did a slew of other painful things, I was not perfect. I talked too much! I created an uncomfortable home environment by not being in control of my emotions and expecting him to consistently read my mind. I was controlling and didn’t listen to his needs well enough. I broke the trust in our marriage by sharing things that he shared with me in confidence to my friends. I expected him to make me happy instead of doing what I needed to do for me to make myself happy. If it wasn’t for the deep, deep pain of going through this divorce, taking the time to stop and self reflect and then start applying what I was learning so that I could become better I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I wouldn’t be remarried to the awesome man I have in my life now. I wouldn’t be able to take the lessons I learned before and apply them to my marriage now.

So don’t run from the pain you experience in your life. Don’t let those moments where you feel like you don’t know what to do or the pain is so difficult that you don’t know how you’ll make it through take away from the lessons you could learn. We need pain. Pain alerts us that something isn’t right. Pain tells us that changes need to be made. Pain encourages us to learn, grow, and be better. Examine the areas of life where you are struggling. Look at the pain tied to those areas and use it to help motivate you, teach you to set boundaries, remind you of decisions you made previously and to tell you the truth about those around you or yourself. Don’t block out pain or shy away from it, allow pain to push you into greatness!

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