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Embracing Pain

On July 6th, 2019, I got out of bed with full intention of not ever getting out of one again. I was burned out on life, my career, and had given up hope. I’ve written about this experience several times. Once at my website’s blog, once for the performance blog Simplifaster, and once on my personal Facebook page. Obviously, and thankfully, my plan to end my life was foiled by an individual who happened to be at the right place and right time. I wish I could tell you that it’s all a happy ending, but the truth is there was at least one other time that an event occurred like this, and with those stories comes the unbearable truth that life has an inexorable amount of pain included.

Last year, when I celebrated the year anniversary of making it through that dark time, I highlighted the need for rest and the need for struggle. How the world is not black or white and how that’s okay. In the typical fashion of someone who remembers way too much about, I find it compelling to continue to derive at least one lesson from each year from that date.

And this year’s is the necessity of embracing pain.

I’d be lying if I told you the last 12 months have been easy. I got laid off from my main job as a result of the gym closures nationwide. Shortly after that I was turned down for my first job after that (and have been turned down again more recently). I started my own training company, only to have the first few programs I launched end up as fiery dump within six months. I opened new relationships, only to have them expire, be renewed, and then expire again in the most heartbreaking of ways. Admittedly that darkness from two years ago started to creep back in.

In pain, we often question why things happen to us. We feel as if we are owed some explanation for our suffering. But this is not always the case. Whenever I’m struggling, I often refer back to the book of Job. In studying Job more recently, rather than just reading it, I find it interesting how things to start to unfold differently. The common narrative you grow up with in Sunday School is that Satan picked Job and God said he could do anything except kill him (at least that’s the narrative I grew up with). But what you look at that interaction, God offered up Job. He showed pride in Job and offered him as an example of someone who wouldn’t crack. This doesn’t mean Job didn’t feel pain. Most of the book is Job lamenting to God at how much pain he’s in. But there’s something we can’t forget about Job: in the end he’s restored. Because he didn’t crack, God restored him.

My work relies heavily on getting people to do stuff that is uncomfortable. Sometimes it can even be physically painful. But pain, and being broken down, will eventually lead to restoration. It is through the hard times and holding firm to what we know true that we grow stronger and are made new. So with knowledge that pain is not ultimate, and that good can come of it, this year’s lesson is to embrace it. To allow it, process it, and stick to your guns. To surround yourself with people who will sit in your pain with you, whether it is friends, family, or a therapist (there is no shame in therapy). Once we can understand and embrace the pain, we can start to grow and be restored.

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