Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No Pain no Gain!

Aren't you tired of that clichéd phrase? I sure am. This phrase is meant to motivate us to go through a painful process in order to gain something. I've seen it plastered inside gyms, as indicators that your pain is not in vain. For me this phrase is just a painful reminder of our reality: we survive from one painful experience, get a little breath, and when we start to feel comfortable, another painful experience awaits us in the next corner of life. That seems to be the reality of our life, however dim this perspective strikes us. But, however pessimistic this perspective of life seems, it is through these painful moments that we gain everything by losing everything.

I have gone through the experiences and events that led to my current storm in life in my past post, so I won't dwell on those things here. Writing is strangely therapeutic, and so I decided to write a few more posts about it while I am going through it. It helps me to put things into perspective, and perhaps (I hope) it will help others who are going through similar situations.

So getting back to pain. Many of us, in remembering those past storms in our lives, can see that we had gained something from those painful moments. For some of us is strength, to others a wake up call, to others pain is simply there to remind us of hope, of our longing to be fulfilled. What have I gained in this current storm? Even though the storm is still raging in me, I can perfectly see what I had gained so far in this storm.

I feel that I have gained strength. Talking to a friend not too long ago, she recalled how fearful I seemed a few months back, long before this storm even started. She is right. I was hopelessly fearful. I remember my past disappointments (especially romantic ones!) and how poorly I coped in those situations. I was fearful of pain. I wanted to avoid pain by not venturing out of my comfort zone. I restrained myself needlessly in order to not feel the sting of disappointment. My self esteem suffered from the isolation of these risk filled events, and the successes they sometimes bring. I was also fearful in trusting God, troubled with endless loops of doubts. What if I trusted God with something and He didn't show up? How would I deal with the disappointment? I chose to trust Him superficially, to play things safely. This lack of trust, of course, affected deeply my relationship with God. "Now I see you with such courage, you are different than before!" she told me. Courage?! I didn't even realized it, but God had truly changed me in this storm. I am by no means the most courageous person, but I'm tired of fear governing my every step. I'm tired of fear keeping me from loving and trusting the beautiful and magnificent God that we serve!

I feel that I have gained more faith. There is nothing more fertilizing than a storm for the cultivation of faith. When every secure thing in your life crashes down, when insecurities taunts you mercilessly with the uncertain future, and when every constant is robbed from your presence, what is left for the human soul but to look upwards to the only constant in his or her life? In situations like these, we are almost forced to trust and have faith in God, because there is no other in whom you can trust your uncertain future. I feel that slowly, God is giving me faith to trust in Him and His mercy. I don't have faith that can move the mountains, but I feel I have gained the faith to bring me back to my knees, and let God do the moving.

I feel that I have gained more purity. To be purified we have to go through the fire. It is one of the paradoxes of the Christian life. When we feel hopeless, that pain is robbing us of every good sparks in our souls, when normal and small details irritate us and we are prompt to anger and pessimism, it is in this apparent despicable state that we are being purified, even without our noticing it. For the past 2 years I had struggled with a habitual sin that I just didn't seem to have enough strength to defeat it. There are other habitual sins that I have also struggled with, and, in trying my best to defeat it, there is some progress, but I always seem to slip back to my old self. But in this state that I find myself in presently, I have noticed that this habitual sin, and some others, are being eliminated, without my trying so hard. I gave up control by losing it, and not through my own strength I have been set free of this, but only by the grace of God. This alone makes the storm more than worth its pain.

I am sure that I can name many other things that I have gained through this storm. The best part it's that the storm is not over yet (wait, am I really saying this?!). I have still a lot more to gain it seems, and I'm sure God won't abandon me in the middle of it. I am a work in progress, with a perpetual sign over me that says "God at work".

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