The Story You Tell About Your Pain

Have you found yourself watching someone else’s life wondering how everything seems to fall into place for them? I was talking to one of my friends the other day, and he was telling me about this new project he is working on. Have you ever been around one of those people where things always seem to go their way? That’s him. At least that’s what most people would think when they see him. The truth is that things aren’t quite as simple as that. Everyone sees the new adventure, and often they get to experience the finished product. What they don’t get is a behind the scenes look into the pain that is found in the process.

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A few weeks ago, I was talking to some new friends at a dinner. Every one of them is living what people would call “a successful life.” A few of them have achieved some level of fame whether local or national. Something stood out to me about them though, and that is the common thread I knew about each of them was that they had gone through significant pain. I’m not just talking about a little difficulty along the way. I’m talking about people who have felt completely undone by the experiences they had gone through. If you spent a short amount of time with them, you would never guess the pain they had gone through. If you ran into them at the grocery store or a coffee shop, you might even feel an impression on your heart of the kindness and joy that comes from them.

You wouldn’t guess they had been devastated before. They weren’t reading from the script pain had given them. They were living a different story, because they were telling themselves a different story.

They were living a different story, because they were telling themselves a different story. 

I wanted to share this with you if you feel like life has dealt you an unfair hand. Maybe it was the dysfunction in your family, being overlooked for opportunities, or having your innocence stolen from you. You might feel like your story is about being betrayed, or that your story is one where you  always comes up a little short.

You might be telling yourself that you weren’t enough and you won’t be enough. Some bad experiences sent that message to you, but now its the message that hits rewind every night while you sleep and plays in your mind throughout the day.

Maybe you believe that you deserve bad things because you’ve been taken advantage of so there must be something wrong with you. If you believe you’re fundamentally flawed, then you just might wind up thinking you don’t deserve good things.

You might feel like there aren’t trustworthy people because too many people broke your trust. In your mind, it will be easier to not trust than to trust. You can be really successful in business doing this because it will keep you from meaningful connection, and always keep you focused on the next project or idea. What you’ll miss though are the relationships that come along with trusting others and being trusted. We usually end up living the story we tell ourselves. What story are you telling yourself about your pain?

We usually end up living the story we tell ourselves. What story are you telling yourself about your pain?

Today at my lunch with my friends Perry and Caleb, Perry said, “If you want to look into the past, look around you. All you can see is what was. Even what your eye sees is what was just before. If you want to see the future, look inside and see your desires and fears. That is what your future will be.” I think Perry was asking us, “What kind of story are you telling yourself?”

Are your eyes focused on what was, where you were, and who you were? Are you telling yourself a story of what you can’t do and why you can’t do it? Has the pain of your past crippled you from believing in hope for your future?

You could very easily live devastated with no expectation of good in life. Two people go through similar experiences of pain. One person says, “It was never supposed to be like this, and I will never get over this.” The other says, “This was never supposed to happen to me, but I am healing and moving forward the best I can even though I may not know how.” Here’s what I have learned. They will both prove themselves right.

They will both prove themselves right. 

I used to view my pain as something to avoid. Now, I view it as a gift. Generally speaking, I don’t trust people as much who haven’t experienced much pain in their life. I find that our sufferings are the path of discovering who we are, and a pain free existence is not what this is life is all about. Instead, it is moving forward through the pain.

It is easy to imagine the best life is the one that has no bruises and scars. Jesus shows us through his life it is quite the opposite. The best way to live is to continue to love even when it hurts. We won’t find meaning and purpose in a recliner watching Netflix. It’s through love, risk, hope, fear and pain that we find the doors into delight, meaning, and understanding.

What story will you tell yourself going forward about who you are? What story will you tell yourself about your pain, where you have been, and where you are going?