I recently heard a really interesting quote from a lady at the church I attend. Those of you who go to the same church that I do will recognize it. She said, "God doesn't waste pain." The simplicity of that statement is marginally misleading I think. There is a lot of depth packed into those four words, and they have led me to many thoughts that I cannot ignore. It entails that pain is currency. Pain can be spent and used for things that are inherently good, and God is a wise spender. While going through pain is obviously not ideal and is avoided in most cases, the outcome can lead to things that we cannot imagine. So is pain good? I'm not making that claim, or at least I don't think that I am going to make that claim; I just want to take an honest look at this very insightful observation.
I am not sure if I fully understand the idea yet, but I can't get it out of my head so I decided to write about it now. Let's think about it and discover it together. I'm no stranger to pain. I've done some pretty stupid things in my life, and have faced some pretty bleak circumstances. I know that God never planned for me to deviate from his path, yet I think it is entirely possible that he can use each and every mistake that I have made and every hardship I've encountered to strengthen his plan for my life. If I could go back and redo some things, I would definitely choose different routes, but time travel is unfortunately impossible. Instead I want to be able to embrace the negative parts of my past and allow them to be crafted into a story that I can share with people who have faced similar struggles.
So how does pain become something bigger? Something beautiful? I would be lying if I claimed to understand that conundrum in its entirety. I cannot speak for anyone else, so I'm just going to look at my own story, and see if I can find the beauty through the pain. So here is a little look into my life. As I said, I've struggled with a lot of different things in my life. I've written here about my struggles with understanding God and who he truly is, and in the segments of my life where I walked away from God, I found myself in some very dark places. For a long time, I didn't believe that God was real. I resigned to face life alone, and whatever circumstances came along I would deal with. I separated myself from everyone that I was close to in an effort to forget God, but what resulted was a deep loneliness. A loneliness that I tried to fill with worldly things; Sex, alcohol, lust. Anything and everything that the world assured me was the gateway to wholeness, but I never found anything that felt deep or real. So many things in this life thrive on surface level connections, but fail to establish any sort of solid foundation. It's like a farmer planting all of his crops in soil that is only an inch deep. It might appear that all is well, but there is simply not enough earth to sustain bountiful crops. The same goes for what I was looking for. One of the darkest nights of my life was the night that I realistically considered the possibility of ending my life. I'm not trying to be dramatic or squeeze sympathy out of anyone, I just want to paint a picture of what I've faced. It has been a painful journey. Some days I think of all the people I've hurt and used up along the way in order to feel good. Or to feel anything. It's disheartening to say the least. I am fully aware that many people have faced far worse than I have, and I'm not downplaying people who have faced less than I have, I only want to establish my story so we can look at it.
The journey home was long. Actually it IS long; it's far from over. Admitting that I was at fault and that I needed people to stand beside me and help me was not an easy task for me. But slowly over time, I became aware that I could not continue to live alone. It was killing me, and it was killing those who were trying to reach out to me. So there's a little bit of my story. I'm still not where I need to be. I don't think I ever will be, nor do I think anyone can be. A restlessness for continual change is healthy and necessary in an adapting world. I never want to find myself in a state of complacency.
How do we go from that story back to the fact that God never wastes pain? I think the best way is to share where I'm at now. I had a conversation with my parents not too long ago wherein we discussed reaching people. My mom said something that really affected me. She made the point that the circumstances we have faced affect who we are called to reach. Maybe all the months and years of searching that I did will one day help me share my story with other people who are and have been searching. It was such a revolutionary idea to me. The idea that not a single moment in our life is wasted. Every second that we are alive is part of our story. The band that I play in is planning some big things for this upcoming year, and I know that sharing our individual stories and our collective story is going to factor into everything that we do. That is where I feel called to go, and I am aware that some of the people I meet will be in need of hearing a story like mine. I think of a good friend that I met at one of the first shows our band played. I really connected with him and he began to open up to me that he struggled with understanding God. Over the course of the last year I've seen him grow in his faith, and have had the chance to have some very deep and meaningful conversations with him. I cannot wait to see that story replicated over and over again as I move into my future.
As I've said before, I understand that some people who read the stuff on this site believe in God, and some do not. And, as always, I welcome you all here. I really feel like someone who reads these words needs to hear them in a special way today. Maybe some of you need to share this message with a friend who needs it. Whatever the case, know that these words are for you and that I care for each of you.
So is it worth it? Is it worth experiencing the pain in order to have the opportunity to see other people change? For me it is. That is not a conclusion that I came to lightly. It took a long time for me to see that God is not random. He has a plan more intricate and elaborate than we can fathom, and every second of our lives is part of it. Every high and every low will someday make sense and will someday be useful in sharing our stories. Don't lose faith at the sight of pain. I can be excited now that my pain is being transformed into something beautiful. It's the shadows that prove that sunshine exists, after all. On occasion, we have to see the negative elements that accompany a lack of God to realize how good it is when he is close. Sometimes we need to be content with not understanding, and be excited for the stories we will one day be able to tell.
(Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day. Follow me on Twitter at @matthewormand.)