Finding the blessings in our pain

Recently there has been quite a bit of pain introduced into my life.  Not necessarily my own, but that of my grandfather, who is dying from stage 4 lung and bone cancer, and from my new foster son who is dealing with emotional issues no one at his age should have to encounter.  Of course, I do have my own enduring pains, including the depression my entire family struggles with and the health problems that have plagued me for years, mostly due to my faulty immune system.

With all of this on my mind in recent days, I found myself in need of comfort.  While shopping the aisles of my local library, I picked up a book entitled “Why Me, Why This, Why Now”, written by Robin Norwood, a well-known therapist and author.  I could tell that Robin was approaching life from a spiritual point of view rather than a scientific one, so I was hoping I would find more than just medical jargon within the pages.  Luckily, I found more than I even expected, including the following thoughtful affirmation:

“I didn’t yet understand that God is always unknowable and that as we move closer to Him, God moves farther away, drawing us higher and higher as we seek and search and try to follow.”

I must admit the above quotation threw me a bit at first.  After all, I had always been told that when me move closer to God, he moves closer to us.  As the Bible verse says, “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you”.  However, I can see the truth in the author’s opinion.  If God always met us where we are, we would fail to advance upon our path of spiritual growth.  By being slightly elusive, God keeps us following him, thirsting for more.  In no way do I want to give the impression that God is cold and uncaring by turning his back on us and walking away.  He is more like the parent who encourages their child’s first steps by standing out of reach and then calling for their child to follow.

The other thoughts the author shared that really hit home were actually part of a list explaining the purpose and reality of human suffering.  Here is the list as Robin Norwood gave it:

1. Deep healing always involves a change of heart and therefore an expansion of consciousness.

2. The cure of a physical condition or illness does not necessarily imply that meaningful healing has taken place.

3. The continuation of a physical condition or illness, even if death eventuates, does not necessarily imply that meaningful healing has not taken place.

4. In the emotional realm, the greater the trauma, the greater the potential for meaningful healing.

5. At the level of thought, the greater the distortion in the belief system, the greater the healing, should that distortion be corrected.

6. The healing of the individual affects the healing of the entire body of humanity; the healing of the body of humanity affects the healing of the entire planet.

Although the above list is fairly self-explanatory, I can’t even begin to tell you how it freed me from untold pain and anguish.  Instead of fighting against the inevitable, making myself and everyone around me miserable in the process, I could allow life to happen, help where I can and leave the rest of it in the hands of someone who knows better than I.  I have always believed that everything, all the good, as well as the bad, happens for a reason, but when you are in the midst of turmoil, it is easy to forget what you have always known to be true.  This helpful book reaffirmed my belief in life and the purpose we are all here to fulfill.  Life is a classroom, and we are all here to learn.  So let us never forget that pain is one of our greatest teachers, and like a diamond, we will only be more beautiful and pure once we are refined.

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