Has anyone else seen this movie? It has its faults (no pun intended), but I absolutely loved it…even though I cried my eyes out almost the entire time. It’s a real, raw, honest look at living with cancer, particularly teenagers dealing with this awful disease. My first job as a nurse was working with people who were fighting cancer and I witnessed several die from the disease, including very young people. And then I had the opportunity to be with my mom as she lived with, fought against, and ultimately died from cancer.
But what keeps coming back to me from this movie is this particular line about pain. Our society doesn’t like pain. We do anything we can to escape it, alleviate it, or numb it. But when the rubber meets the road, the truth is that pain really does demand to be felt. Or put another way, in some way, shape or form, pain will be exposed.
We use all sorts of methods to try to escape, alleviate, or numb the pain that is inevitable in this life. Drugs, alcohol, sex, food, exercise, materialism, or busyness are just a few things that come to my mind when I think about ways we try to keep pain from being felt. We use these things so we don’t have to feel the pain, but through the use of these “coping mechanisms,” our pain is often exposed. Drug addition, alcoholism, pornography, eating disorders, mounting debt, and running around like chickens with our heads cut off are all ways we “expose” the pain that we try so hard to not feel.
But where does this get us?
Deeper in pain.
So what’s the answer?
Allow pain to be felt…really felt.
In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis wrote, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
God used His megaphone in my life as I watched the woman who gave me life take her last breath. While it was the most painful experience of my life, it was also one of the most sacred and special moments of my life. There is no denying that I felt pain…deep pain in my heart. But it was through this pain that God taught me this painful truth: pain brings beauty.
My mom had a wonderful life but she also experienced a lot of pain in her 63 years. However, by the end of her life, she was more beautiful than ever. Physically she was emaciated from cancer eating away at her body, but her beauty resonated from something deeper…a profound peace and faith in God. She, too, had learned that pain brings beauty.
“Pain demands to be felt” also made me think a lot about adoption. Is it beautiful? YES! Jenna has been home for 8 months now and it has been miraculous…truly beautiful. But with every adoption is pain. My precious daughter was at one point left on a busy street. My precious daughter will never know the mother who gave her life and this courageous woman somewhere in China will never know how amazing her daughter is. My precious daughter will one day ask difficult, painful questions about the first 2 ½ years of her life in China. My precious daughter will be faced with difficult, painful questions about her genetic skin condition.
I pray that God will give me the wisdom and courage to help Jenna feel her pain and then expose the beauty she has to offer this world.
Every child that was once an orphan and now has a loving, forever family is a picture of God’s grace and testimony to the fact that pain brings beauty. Hopefully, God will “rouse a deaf world” by using Jenna and other children that were once orphans to show that He can create beauty from ashes and pain needs to be felt, not feared.
God doesn’t allow anything to be wasted, including our pain. It is always for a greater purpose. We may not fully understand that purpose this side of heaven, but there is a purpose. Our job is to feel the pain and then expose the beauty that comes from it.
Just think how much more beautiful the world would be if we each exposed the beauty that comes from our pain?