The meaning of pain

"Life is difficult" is the first sentence of the book "The Road Less Traveled" by Scott Peck. This is so true. This life is never utopia. No matter how much we have or how little we have, there will always be difficulties and pain. There is no free ride to absolute joy in this life. The avoidance of pain seems to be the first reaction we all have. Have you ever had a toothache? Has a doctor ever told you that you need an operation? What about the diagnosis of cancer? Has that ever happened to you or a loved one? Friends and family members die. They can become seriously ill. Financial difficulties can happen. Sometimes people can judge you inaccurately or criticize you with false statements. None of us get through this life without some pain involved on a regular basis. It is unavoidable, yet when it happens we try to escape the pain or run away from it.

Pain and struggles are really the opportunity to experience life on a deeper level. When there is something beyond my control, I must examine my life philosophy or theology. Is there something I am missing? What is the purpose of my life?

Over the years I have noticed the most open and broken people are the people who seem to have found a peace within themselves and a peace about life. People who embrace what happens to them seem to have a sense of God that is profound and personal. I think this is a result of total acceptance of what cannot be controlled. It is in this acceptance that a person has the ability to go deeper and discover a profound experience of what life is all about. Have you ever noticed that many people who suffer ordeals and struggles become more caring and compassionate toward others? It is like they know something that the rest of us don't realize. They have come to realize that what is most important in life is not possessions, fame or status. What is most important is care, compassion and a deep relationship with a God who is always loving and caring toward everyone. When we embrace our pain and struggles we often become less judgmental and condemning of others. We experience the severe limitations in life. This realization of our limitations becomes a giant nudge to discover a deeper relationship with a God in our life. The surrender to a God whom we may have always professed to believe in but possibly never fully experienced in a personal manner can make our relationship with this God personal and meaningful. It is primarily because we have embraced the pain of this moment. Our energy is freed up to surrender to life and to God rather than fight life and fight God.

I have had many friends die over the past couple of years. I have one friend who has about four to six months to live. He is a Capuchin priest who has written many books and traveled the world giving talks. He is very well known and loved. His acceptance of his cancer and his humble peaceful attitude inspires me deeply. It is as if everything he has written and said over the years has now been totally concretized in his peaceful, humble and loving attitude of the acceptance that his death is approaching. To be in his presence is to experience the presence of God. Maybe this is the meaning of all pain and all life: to be totally open to the Presence of God and to bring this experience to others by our humble attitude.

There is great meaning in pain. It pushes us in the direction of God. We realize what the values of life really are. Every gentle and kind act is most important. We become more gentle and kind. Every reflective moment becomes a Divine Experience and we become more reflective. We realize there isn't much to be upset about anymore. We are wide open to life and love and God when our pain is embraced.

This day, stay open to whatever comes your way. You will discover God in a deeper manner. Don't fight against pain. Embrace it and you will experience a healing inside of you. This healing is an inner healing of the soul. Then all will be well regardless of what happens to you. Your journey becomes a journey to bring more peace and love to those around you and people will never forget you. They will remember that to be with you is to be in the Presence of God no matter if you die young or live to be 110. It is all about embracing the present moment and a deeper experience of God.

Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@ and his website is

Published: Tue, Jun 20, 2017


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