A new perspective on pain

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The most basic of human instincts is to avoid pain.

When we feel cold, we put on a jacket. When we feel hungry, we eat. When we’re abused, we run, or fight back to stop it. We’re built to avoid falling down, wired to not step out in front of a moving vehicle, and taught to pursue survival, comfort, and safety.

I recently heard someone say that pain is the source of creativity. I really, really didn’t want to hear this. As a professional copywriter that would ideally love to get paid to write creatively, that means that pain will be the lifeblood of my ultimate professional aspiration. I want cushy joy and comfort to be the source of my creativity. As in, the sort of inspiration that springs from the following sentiment: Today, I feel that all my dreams are coming true. I’m in perfect health. Every one of my needs is being met, and I want for nothing.

Can creative inspiration be born in that sort of bliss?

Sure, it can. And it has for me, at times. But when I take a step back and look at the bigger picture – the journey that took me here, professionally, spiritually, even physically – it’s quite clear to me that pain has, in fact, given birth to some of my most valued things: loneliness, to friendship; crippling fear, to confidence and boldness; even rejection, to humility.

This exercise is always simpler in retrospect. It’s easy to look back on a difficult season and discover the seeds of something that became quite beautiful later on. It’s easy to look at a health struggle, and see how it became impetus to take better care of your body; or a difficult family dynamic that prepared you to be a kinder person later on; or, the list goes on.

What’s not so easy is taking a look at your current trial and seeing the beauty or productivity in it. The bible tells us to give thanks in every circumstance*. I used to think that this meant giving thanks just because of God’s goodness, which never changes. And I think it most certainly means that.

But what if it also means to give thanks for what this difficult circumstance is producing in you right now?

Right now, I’m coming out of a pretty painful season of heartache and confusion. But I’m believing that what I’ve gone through can and will be molded in the hands of my Creator to become a divine setup: That I will experience joy and provision that are in part, dependent on my current painful circumstance.

That’s where faith comes in. Faith believes that adversity will give you a strategic advantage. And not just because you’ll be a stronger person – but because your pain is setting you up for beautiful new beginnings that couldn’t have come any other way.

*1Thessalonians 5:18

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