The Breathtaking Beauty Of Pain

There are some things that are better in theory than in practice. I have known quite a number of young women who have either through their words or actions expressed an overwhelming desire for bad boys or evil men. Today, for example, a coworker of mine expressed her love of dating cholos (hispanic gangsters, often from Southern California, typically in khakis and a wifebeater, often seen on Cops and similar tv shows). Later on this evening, I had cause to remember another young lady I know who once in a game that we were playing drew two drawings about Loki, the villain of the Thor and Avenger movies, showing sympathy to him because of his perceived mistreatment, while being slightly less sympathetic in real life to those who have had rather painful and dramatic life stories, whether out of ignorance or out of an inability to connect the sympathy within her mind and fantasy with the actions she takes in real life.

It is easy for those of us who are deeply scarred souls to have a certain resonance with others who have similarly suffered themselves. It is as if there are some people who are attuned, often without being consciously aware of it, to the frequency of pain and suffering in the lives of others. There is a certain joy, a certain lifting of the burdens of our lives, when we are around someone who understands and gets us, to whom we do not have to explain our fears and insecurities because they understand them and accept us as we are. This sort of sensitivity can be real and genuine with some people, and it can be pretended for tactical reasons by others who seek to take advantage of those who are vulnerable.

But where it is real and genuine, it is not always easy to understand where someone is coming from. Even though we may often have the same sort of trials and suffering and pain in life, the way we choose to deal with it is often distinct. Some people appear to be perfectly fine and together on the outside while they are burdened far beyond what they can manage on the inside, wishing someone would help them with their burden but too afraid to open up about their struggles for fear of being rejected and made fun of for their weaknesses or shortcomings or blemishes or scars. Other people cannot help but express and externalize their struggles, and have to deal with the bewildering array of responses that people have to the sufferings of this world, ranging from hostility towards those who have endured the horrors that can be inflicted on God’s children, to overwhelming kindness and affection from tender and loving hearts, to bewilderment and confusion and a desire on the part of some to escape or avoid such problems altogether.

Yet there is a breathtaking beauty to pain, which can make life complicated and difficult when we choose to open our hearts, damaged though they may be, to those who have their own damages, who come from broken homes, who have deep longings for affection and concern and attention and deep suffering from abuse and neglect, from material poverty and from the deficit of love and respect. It is not always easy for us to recognize this beauty in ourselves that may draw to us those huddled masses yearning to be free from oppression and injustice, even as it draws us to the same sort of people as we would like to be, people with tender hearts, who patiently listen and encourage and hold us accountable to a higher standard even as they strengthen the better angels of our natures. Sometimes that breathtaking beauty may be hard to understand, sometimes it may bring us pain to help those who are suffering, even as it reminds us of our own struggles and causes us to weep for ourselves and for others who are not so different from us after all. Yet it is a pain that refines our character, makes us more compassionate and understanding of others, and that may, if we are fortunate, bring us the wholeness and intimacy that we seek, no matter how much pain we may endure along the way until we see the fruits of our torment and labor.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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9 Responses to The Breathtaking Beauty Of Pain

  1. A haunting beauty and, in a strange sort of way, a friend is the personal pain and travail we suffer–usually in silence. One can be from a broken home even when the two natural parents are dwelling together within it. A legacy can be created that one-adult parenting is the better option given similar circumstances, for a genuine hope exists that the parent-child breach will be healed. The terrible issue remains that we mourn what we wish we could have had but never had the opportunity to experience. My genuine empathy is often expressed awkwardly and insufficiently, but I must do so regardless; people are brought closer through their shared experiences. We find, once we take the time to open up–and avail ourselves to other amenable souls–that we share much more than we realized. “Affinity” means that we share the same origin and are drawn together in structural unity–which is what I believe God meant when He bonded His two great commandments together.

    What a wonderful post you have written, Nathan! The fruit of suffering is always noted in the Journal that really matters, regardless of how it appears on the surface we call Earth. When we look for approval from our Father who never dies, we begin to realize that now is our perfect childhood. He is a perfect Parent and we have the open eyes of experience to fully appreciate His words of wisdom, knowledge and instruction. We are being primed to teach others by our intimate first-hand experience. It doesn’t get better than that in this evil, painful, rot-infested world. We don’t look for our justice or recompense here. But we can find inner joy, peace and happiness when we understand that the past couldn’t have happened any other way. There is no such thing as “if only, could have, should have” or “would have.” It was and is. That is what total forgiveness is all about. But we have complete control over the “will be” choices that shape our future.

    • That is certainly very true. The purposes of that pain, though, go far beyond the present time, sometimes generations into the future, besides the world to come.

      • Yes, that is what the Journal is all about. It keeps tabs on the root system that forms generationally and brings it all into a focal Reality. That will be when the environment factors become favorable and the attitudes will flush themselves out (according to scripture after the third or fourth generation.) There are those who relish the pain, wallow in it and use it as their driving force, but it eventually drives them instead and ends up eating them alive. That is why we self-analyze and try not to do things that we done to us and create a different history for our offspring. They will have a different perspective than we–regardless of how hard we try–because every family has some form of dysfunction (no one is perfect.) But we have the responsibility to do better when we know better. That’s what we are judged on because we cannot be held accountable for the things we did not understand–even the things that unwittingly caused pain. Sometimes, in a harsh, cruel world, a parent is faced with making decisions in which each available choice is terrible. It means sifting out the least awful one, committing to making it as painless as possible, and shielding her children as best as she can. I can attest to the fact that it is one of the most difficult experiences a loving parent can go through–especially when the children don’t understand the wrenching emotions that that lead up to the awful decisions she was forced to make. It’s something she has to live with each day, knowing that her children bear the lifelong scars of coming from a broken home–but also realizing that the alternative was even worse.

      • Yes, I do understand that, and that is the way I view it for myself.

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