Last weekend I was grilling ribs and chicken. As I was showing my friend Dave (who was pretending to be interested) the intricacies of charcoal cooking, I reached around the grill, got too close and burnt the underside of my arm. Yowsa. That hurt. (See the nice red welt on my arm? Yeah…that’s the burn.)
It will heal, of course, but it got me thinking about how pain is such a great teacher.
Chances are that you have already been burnt by something or someone this week. If not this week, then this month, and certainly this year. One reaction is to distance ourselves from things that cause us pain. Another approach is to learn from it.
Here are some lessons pain has taught me over the years:
- Even things you love cause you pain. (Some might say especially the things you love.) That doesn’t mean you can’t love them, it just means we’d be wise to learn why that is and how we can avoid finding ourselves in that situation in the future.
- Pain gets my attention. I wonder if one of the reason God allows pain in my life is because I am a better student when I am in pain than when I think I’m invincible.
- Pain points to a deeper problem. Sometimes when I’m in pain, I just want to the pain to stop. But the pain is just a messenger. It’s telling me something else is wrong. The more I am willing to address the source of the pain, the more I can learn to grow and heal.
- Pain can lead to greater humility. As much as guys want to say "I’m okay, I’m okay, really, I’m okay", the truth is we’re often ashamed of what caused us pain. Much cooler to just bbq and be the hero than to burn yourself in front of 25 friends. But where I have actually engaged the pain that comes my way, I can learn and grow from it, welcoming it even as a friend.
- Wounds eventually heal. If you give a wound proper attention and time, it will heal. You may walk with a limp for a while, but the truth is the body has an amazing propensity to heal itself. The burn mark itself is about 30% smaller when I took this picture than it was when I burned my arm 4 days earlier. Sometimes we lose track of the fact that we will get better, but God is an incredible healer.
What have you learned from pain? How have you been burned and what has it taught you?