It is said that the greatest inventions, the generational movements, and the most triumphant victories are born out of a response to an acute pain or discomfort within the human heart and mind.
It was only through the pains of unemployment and ridiculously high living costs of San Francisco that birthed the start of a mattress renting, breakfast-providing behemoth we now know as Airbnb.
It was the tyranny and the oppression of government, the inability to express their existence’s greatest desire to worship, and their longing to be free that inspired a few hundred brave souls to abandon their lives and spur the beginnings of what has once been hailed the greatest nation on earth.
It was the greatest slaughter in the history of mankind that aroused our conscience to unite against evil. It was the witnessing of brutality, of racism, and martyrdom that made “I have a dream,” sound above the radio waves of selfishness. It was the betrayal of his first love and a darkness thicker than any night that produced a writer for the ages.
What we have condemned to be life’s greatest accuser and the public’s number one enemy (pain), may have been wrongly convicted. Because it was in fact the deeply entrenched suffering and pronounced discomfort of life whether it be in the realm of faith, the body, thought, or emotions that inspired us to act.
It wasn’t simply a fad, a passing thought, or even a self-procured will that gave rise to these fantastic leaps of growth. Those alone don’t have the power or the sustenance to fuel the level of dedication and grit necessary to overcome many of history’s challenges. Only a relentless will, fueled by a belief that there is more than our present circumstance can drive us to endure.
There is a tension within us created by the future we hope for and the reality we live in. This warring of selves inevitably produces what we label pain, heartache, strife, suffering, discomfort, or unease. What kind of battle avoids casualties?
And so if we are aware and understand the upside of being hurt, “Why do we exert ourselves to avoid it all costs?”
The simple answer is because it hurts.
Long ago, we gave hurt the authority to discourage us, push us down, and reduce us to cowards without a fight. We have accepted the fate of every match to be defeat and have given pain the title of Eternal Champion in our lives. By ignoring the prize and the possibility of ever obtaining it, we have lost all will to prepare because even that is difficult.
Somehow, our culture has rewritten the course of success by alluding wholly to the end result without mentioning the beginning or the journey. And we as an audience have agreed to it, because it hurts less.
But what we don’t realize until we’ve gone through the flames is that that’s exactly where our passions catch fire. That’s where we discover our rawest desires and our strongest tendencies. We burn off the layer of fluff we’ve been hauling around and become real with our dreams, our relationships, and ourselves. It’s here in the place of emptiness and poverty we recognize what is really important to us living a fulfilled life. Not a happy life, a meaningful life.
You start to perceive life through a different lens, unfiltered, unashamed, and unafraid. You’ve already experienced your hell and now there’s only heaven to look forward to. With every bankruptcy, every death, and every loss, we lose a little bit of ourselves or rather we shed a lot of ourselves.
Amidst the broken pieces of our heart, what we’ll see behind us is a trail of rags the storms of life have thrown off of us. They represent the relationships holding you back, the habits you knew weren’t healthy, and the totality of how you looked at life, not as a victor but a survivor.
But now you walk a little lighter, you walk a little faster. You’ve got nothing to lose, nothing to prove, except to keep moving forward. Pain will find its way to you again, but now you can greet it as a simple reminder of your purpose.