“Pain may well remind us that we are alive, but love reminds us why we are alive” Trystan Owain Hughes
Some of you might recognize this quotation from Wm Paul Young’s book, Cross Roads, but it originated from a book called Finding Hope and Meaning in Suffering by Dr Trystan Owain Hughes. Hughes wrote the book after he was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition in the hope of showing others that, even if we are struggling with a severe illness or injury, we have a choice how we respond to adverse circumstances. What Hughes found when he was diagnosed was that, instead of casting him in a downward spiral of unhappiness, the pain and suffering he experienced actually prompted him to actively seek out sources of hope and meaning. He encourages us to “take a step back from our anxieties and worries and rest in the love of God.”
Hughes suggests that there are “five areas where love may be found in the midst of pain: in nature, memory, art, laughter and other people. By becoming conscious of the echoes of the transcendent in these areas, we will gain new strength. And paradoxically, through facing our suffering, learn to truly live.”
He covers the topic beautifully in a post on his own blog entitled: “Love reminds us why”: God and the mystery of suffering.
Suffering can oftentimes be a very private matter and that was one thing I found when I was recovering from my accident. It was difficult for me to fully disclose the depths of my suffering on both a physical and spiritual level because I felt like I was letting everybody down. In retrospect, I was punishing myself for not being a superhero! And although I didn’t have Hughes’ wonderful book to inspire me at the time, I did arrive in the same neighborhood as some of his conclusions.
It became indelibly clear to me at one point that I had a choice. I could lumber and struggle under the weight of my own sorrow and pain, shying away from all the beauty and promise that life offered before my accident… or… I could move toward that light again; actively seeking out the good in life, the positive. Doing things that would affirm my relationship with God, with family, with friends… with myself.
I’m interested to know how you’ve dealt with pain and suffering. What techniques have worked for you? Feel free to leave comments below or if you wish, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.