My son got braces today. He isn’t happy about it. In fact, he is pretty mad. He is mad because he hates the way they look, and he is even more angry about the way they feel when he tries to eat. Like any decent mom, I reminded him that this short season of wearing braces will be so worth it in just a couple years when his teeth are perfect and straight and his bite is properly aligned. It’s not helping him now. But it’s true. He will eventually be so glad he went through this difficult experience.
He reminds me of myself every single time I go through a rough patch. I gain something irreplaceable during painful experiences. I am eventually softened and humbled by pain, BUT my first reaction is to feel mad and try to harden myself so it won’t hurt so badly. Then it breaks me down and I am forced to admit that going through pain helps me relate to the world around me with compassion and empathy; it develops character and gives me perspective I could not gain any other way .
If you’re going through a painful experience right now, rather than running the other way or hardening yourself to it, consider how your life and heart might be transformed in amazingly positive ways because of what you are going through. Don’t get me wrong, pain is awful. I hate it! But if it’s there, why not learn from it?
Pain never has to be wasted if we decide to come out on the other side of difficult experiences wiser, more compassionate and less judgmental than we were before. There is a unique authenticity that comes with acknowledging pain and letting it shape us into more resilient, compassionate people.
Kind of like Jackson’s new braces… The most breathtaking smiles are those that were hard-won.