Pain and discomfort seem to be relentless at times, never ceasing to let up—tapping you on the shoulder and convincing you to give in to them. One minute, you’re elated that a girl has the same feelings for you that you do for her; elated that your mom is healthy again; elated for your future. Two days later, you’re in agony over your anxiety flaring up, in agony over a bunch of job rejections; in agony over a guy that won’t commit; in agony over your past.
Today, our social media platforms aren’t really helping the cause. They act as a megaphone and magnify whatever is said—positive and negative. What’s really wild about that is everything your mind absorbs when scrolling through your phone can have a mental impact far greater than any of us could ever imagine. It’s not hard to fathom that people are struggling since we live app to app and synapse to synapse.
Over the course of human civilization, have people always been secretly unsatisfied with their lives?
One thousand years ago, our ancestors didn’t even have cars. They fought diseases often and died younger. I always find it helpful to put history into perspective the types of pain we humans have faced. But just as I am about to write to you, I guarantee that they focused on the gifts that they were given. Otherwise, we would be nowhere near where we are now without their progress. Their gifts pushed us into new frontiers.
To combat your own pain, focus your energy on the gifts you have been given.
Whether or not you believe in a God, a Creator, a Maker, I’ve found it easier to cope with pain by focusing on my own gifts and giving up my pain to my higher power (to whom I owe everything). You can, too, if you so choose.
Sometimes I plug in my favorite music and wonder in amazement about how I ended up on this earth. For someone who aspires to get to heaven and bring everyone I meet with me there, this is especially true for my soul. Here are some concrete examples of gift-using and gift-discovering:
In college, when I was going through a tough time, I picked up a guitar my Mom gave me and started teaching myself how to play. The more songs I learned, the more accomplished I felt, and the faster my heart started to fill in the gaps of some deep wounds and scars.The same goes for when I’m writing. It’s a therapy that I use to sort out my external and internal emotions. Not only does it help me, but it has the rare power to help others, too. It gives me a chance to connect with others in a way I’d never be able to doing something else (working as an accountant, financial advisor, engineer, etc.)
One of my best friends, during a period of trials and tribulation after serving for the United States Army in the Middle East, came home and focused his energy on riding his bike. He returned home after 10 months, completely unsure of what his next move was going to be. From the moment he realized that he was in a low spot, he started pedaling and pedaling and pedaling some more. He now restlessly continues to ride the many bikes he owns almost daily. It’s one of his gifts and it’s how he fights through the pain of the world.
Another friend, when she was having an extensive and difficult time with an employer, decided to focus on renovating her new house. She focused on fixing up old antique furniture and turned each piece into wonderful little personalities for her home. With her gift, she was able to get through a strenuous period in her life that I know she wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
I would ask you to consider this:
When you don’t focus on your gifts—the things you are best at or the things people look up to you for—the further away from yourself you are going to run.
The reason I know this to be true is because I’ve been that person. I’ve been that guy who ran. Sometimes I still do. The uncertainty of how the world will perceive you can be daunting, like looking over a cliff. But I know I feel the most at peace when I focus on those gifts, when I meditate to my Maker, my God, and ask Him to take my pain. In return, He always shows me back to my gifts.
One of my favorite songs ever written by Jon and Tim Foreman of Switchfoot says, “Your scars shine like dark stars, your wounds are where the light shines through.” This resonates with me deep in my core. The Light can absolutely shine through and heal your scars. Those scars still leave a mark, but they still shine.
It’s a choice and you have to let It in—and not just half-heartedly.
It’s a full-fledged internal battle. You’ve got to put in all of the energy you’ve got. Be willing to give in to the Light and let the tension go. No matter what happens in your life, running from yourself will only delay the inevitable: Just as truth and honesty will chase you down, your gifts will chase you down just the same.
And you’ll be sitting somewhere, someday, and wonder how you even got there. In these moments, don’t clench your fists. Open them. Then, be prepared to tear apart the paper around your soul and unwrap your gifts.
Featured Image Credit: Ben White