One of the effects of pain in our lives is that it interrupts our path. The impact of suffering causes a fork in the road. Our expectations and the reality we face crash together like two tectonic plates and it changes the terrain of our journey.
If our pain is not addressed properly, it can lead to dysfunction. This is one choice in the fork of the road. We can choose to make poor decisions in the wake of pain. We do this for a variety of reasons: trying to punish our pain, in rebellion to a life we felt betrayed by, through defensiveness, out of shame or embarrassment, or trying to short-circuit the pain by ignoring it – just to name a few. Pain feeds insatiably on blame. And we can choose ourselves down a path of recurring pain, inevitably spiraling into dysfunction.
The other choice, the alternate path, is to learn and grow. Just like in exercise, pain is how character strengthens. We should never go looking for pain, but we need to understand that the earthquake it causes is not meant to destroy us but to develop us. We can’t stay on the path we were on before. A new development has caused a fork. And we must choose.
These choices are not easy. We had a straight path. We could see the horizon. And pain has shifted the journey. It’s not that pain knocks us off course, it just realigns the track. Making the choice to journey toward true perspective is the subtle, yet powerful opportunity of life in the midst of pain.