Saturday, August 07, 2010

Pain as a Touchstone for Spiritual Growth

When I was first in recovery I was in a meeting that was studying Step 10 and they came across the paragraph that says something about pain being the touchstone of all spiritual growth. I said I was sure that wasn't going to be true for me because I had had all the pain in my life that I could handle and I was sure my Higher Power was going to protect me from pain so that I could stay sober. My sponsor's sponsor was in the room, and she said, "Oh, honey. Please see me after the meeting."

I truly thought that one of the main objectives of life was to have no pain. But the beautiful lady said, "No! Pain is a tool that tells us when something is wrong that we need to do something about! What if we had no pain when we broke a leg? We would keep walking and further damage our leg. The same is true for emotional pain - it alerts us that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. Even grief at the death of a much beloved person alerts us to the fact that we need to adjust to a new life without the person. Of course, I had never thought about pain that way. I was sure that pain was to be avoided and escaped which meant that the relief from pain that chemicals gave me was a good thing - which, of course, led to addiction.

So - now I don't try to find pain to make myself grow. There's plenty to be had without seeking it. But in every kind of pain there's a gift of some kind, and it's my job to find it.

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