Are Seeds of Power Truly Present Inside All Pain?
Well, I hardly would be writing this blog, if the answer were, “No.” I have a complicated sense of humor, but it isn’t that dark. The answer to whether there are seeds of power present inside all pain is yes—and not a timid “yes,” but a resounding, “Yes!”
How do I know? Well, I have been in a great deal of pain myself, at various points in my life, but that’s a story for another time. The real way I know is this: Showing grace and courage in the face of pain of any kind, at any time, makes you powerful. How could it be, otherwise? And showing that grace and courage is always an option for you.
Let me tell you a story. This one goes back to 1989. I was working as a medical intern at a hospital where a police officer named Louie C. was in the Intensive Care Unit, battling lung cancer. He was on a ventilator. It made his chest heave with every forced breath. He was covered in sweat. I had befriended Louie C. when he was on the regular medical unit, so I spent some extra time visiting his ICU room when I could. One day I went by I was “post-call;” I’d been up since 8 a.m. the prior morning working and hadn’t slept a bit. Anyhow, Louie C. pointed at the pad of paper and pen on his bedside tray. I gave it to him. And this is what he wrote out:
You look horrible. Get some rest.
Do you understand now what I mean when I say that seeds of power are present inside all pain? Would you understand more fully if I told you that reading the words I just wrote—Louie C.’s words—are bringing tears to my eyes nearly 33 years later? That’s how powerful Louie C. was because he knew there were seeds of power inside his pain, and his sweat watered them. His words written in pen, juxtaposed against the flexing, rigid muscles of his ribcage, were etched like the words etched by God on the tablets Moses carried down from Mt. Sinai.
Like the words etched by God. God. He’s the real reason there are seeds of power inside all pain, of course. Because God planted them there. Do you see? They were inside Louie C. the whole time. And they are inside me. And they are inside you.
Every time you wink at one of your kids and say, “I’ll be fine,” in order to spare them the full weight of the suffering you are enduring, you’re watering those seeds. Every time you speak your mind, despite people clamoring for you to shut up—or do you harm for not shutting up—you’re watering those seeds. Every time you walk your dog when your hip hurts or remember to give him a treat when your soul aches, you’re watering them. Every time you forgive someone who desperately needs that forgiveness, you’re watering them.
Do you see?
There are opportunities to water the seeds of power inside you every day. Because who amongst us is not in some amount of pain? Who has not suffered loss? Who has not known anxiety and disappointment and fear? Who has not lost love?
You, Dear Reader, are most powerful, not in spite of your pain, but because of it. You are, elementally, spiritually, by birth and beyond death, an alchemist, able to turn pain into power.
Dr. Keith Ablow
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