Wish me luck conveying this.
For the last several weeks I've had a pain under my rib cage. It makes it hurt to get a deep breath, cough, or move. It's nothing severe, or even important, just annoying. But I learned a lesson in it.
I had a dream. And in this dream I dreamed I was standing in a field, and eleven sheaves of wheat bowed down to me... wait... wrong dream.
I dreamed a doctor told me my pain was being caused by a tumor. It might be cancerous, or benign they wouldn't know until they got it out. They weren't going to biopsy it, because he said either way it had to come out because it was growing too large and it was restricting my blood flow so I could have a heart attack if it wasn't removed quickly.
I remember taking the gamble that nothing would happen, and decided to hold off on treatment until my insurance kicked in at my new job.
Some more things happened, and I'm sorry to say it wasn't a good gamble I took. So many things happened that I don't have time or desire to tell you about, but ultimately I woke up stressed out and more tired than when I went to bed (but not on the brink of death anymore, so that was a good thing). A seemingly innocent pain, had suddenly become life-threatening, finance-wrecking, family-destroying disaster. It took a moment for reality to return, but as it did the words came to me: "Sometimes a pain is just a pain."
I get caught up in fixing things. When something breaks, lifes central focus becomes "fix it" and until it's fixed, not much else gets done. It's not a good method for life, because with a little attention a lot of breaks could be prevented, if only I wasn't so focused on fixing one little break to stop the 50 others.
In the same way, when I'm hurting over something, I stop trying to grow, stop trying to learn, and I almost stopped going to church, just waiting for the pain to pass.
I'm not suggesting God told me to accept a mediocre life, accepting pain and hardship as though He had no power over it. But, hearing those words brought me a measure of peace.
He didn't say "Sometimes pain is just a test" or "...a punishment" or even "...what you reap from sowing as badly as you've sowed."
Sometimes a pain is just a pain.
I drive a 97 Nissan Sentra, with a salvage title, and a busted door that lets in a lot of road noise and rain, no tail lights, and an alignment problem that perpetually has me curving to the right. At the moment it's in the shop because it finally gained a problem that stopped it from running. But all those other problems? Didn't stop it a bit. It didn't even slow it down. It's gone, and it's gone, and it's gone.
I've spent a week now driving a sleek, sweet rental car. And as smooth as the ride is, I find myself thinking more and more about my car and how much better it fits me. I've been broken, refixed, and certainly let in a lot of road noise, and without a constant firm hand, I veer off the road even faster than my car does. But I'm still drivable. Just keep me on the road, turn up the radio volume to drown out the road noise (metaphor... just think about it), and point me in the right direction.
Sometimes pain is just pain. It's not there to be controlled, blamed, whined about, fixed, or avoided. It's just there to be felt. And then drive on anyway.