“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” ― Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

Irony as figure of speech is often use to make the readers think for themselves. Plus it adds that drama, mystery and depth that most creative writing would possibly aim for, consciously or unconsciously. But that shouldn’t be surprising, life in it self is full of irony, thus, drama, mystery and depth as well as gifts and pains.

Speaking logically about pain as it is, perhaps, no person in the world could say that they are thankful for the pain that they are feeling or experiencing, that they are glad to have received such pain, and that they consider it as a form of gift. Unless perhaps if you’re a sadist and take pain for pleasure. Normal people would receive pain, however simple or complex and regardless if it is physical or an emotional kind, and would hardly describe it as gift. Seeing pain as gift is actually a justification and possibly a defense mechanism to escape that very same pain. But it isn’t a complete defiance of the norm just to sound ironic, there is truthfulness to that statement. Think of people who have leprosy, a disease that can cause complete paralysis of the nerves enabling leprosy patients to not feel any pain or damage to their skin and body. To them, being able to feel pain is a true gift for “without a proper pain mechanism, anybody is at a severe disadvantage” as described by Dr. Paul Brand (1914-2003), in his book The Gift of Pain, an English doctor who exposed a better understanding of leprosy being a disease of the nerves and not of tissue as it was earlier known.

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." - Buddhist Proverb

Seeing pain at this perspective gave us a lot of thought and consideration on how else we may perceive, accept, and deal with pain other than a source of dissatisfaction. It gives us a much wider appreciation of how pain is more of a gift than a curse. Take a look back at the time when you were young, your pain is so much simpler. It could be any from the many and usual child’s pain of the stomach, tooth, bruise from minor accident, getting scolded, not getting what you wanted, the list can go on. All of these pains can be used as tool for communication between the child and his/her parents. Tooth ache, for example, signals that something might be wrong with your hygiene and diet as a child. The usual doctor’s prescription will be to brush your teeth often and avoid sweets. It could also signal other things such as the situation at home, were your parents ‘too’ focus at work and in effect were neglecting you. If it isn’t deliberate then that very situation should speak to them that a change of action is required. It saves them a lot of time, money, and effort to prevent those things from happening other than reacting to it when it arrive. This and many other scenarios are possibilities and that pain signals underlying causes. It gives us clues and is a walking reminder of the things perhaps is not seen easily by our naked eyes or we subconsciously chose to ignore.

Pain may not be the pain as we know it after all.

In a blog article by David Masters, a Transfiguration Specialist/Author, he said that “Pain is God’s way of saying ‘Trust Me!’“ and I couldn’t agree more. It may be foolish for us to communicate this way with God but he is God Almighty, we aren’t at the same level. We aren’t even worthy to be thinking of speaking to God. But God, in his goodness, still choose to communicate to us through the signal of what on earth we call ‘pain’. And receiving this message from God is another way to consider pain as gift, for despite our unworthiness, God chose to bridge a connection with us in any way possible. Pain may not be the pain as we know it after all.

"...make the most out of the pain we are feeling by unwrapping the gifts it conceal."

As we grow older, the sources of our pains also grow wider. We are becoming more susceptible to pains lurking around the corner. Have you been emotionally offended by someone? Have you been physically hurt by anybody? Have you been psychologically tortured at work? Have you been spiritually abused at home? Have you been financially debt-ridden for quite a while now? All these are just few examples of pains a normal adult could face in a day, weeks, months or years. Of course, not all these pains are gifts, at times it is also a result or consequence of our previous actions/choices. But our main point here is to make the most out of the pain we are feeling by unwrapping the gifts it conceal.

"I am with you...” Genesis 28:15

In project management, there is what they call ‘Risk Assessment’, it is a best practice to anticipate all kinds of risk or threat that would impact the project usually before it happens and plan the course of action from amongst: Solve, Mitigate, Avoid, or Accept. For unforeseen situation and general life situation as a whole, same analysis or appreciation can be applied. The equation is not necessarily simple but is surely straightforward - for pains that have solution, solve it; for pains which impact can somewhat be alleviated, mitigate it; for pains that can be shunned, avoid it; and for pains that has no solution, can’t be mitigated, and/or shunned, accept and learn from it. Whether or not that pain is caused by your previous actions/choices, or a divine gift, always choose to receive it humbly. As Dr. Brand put it, “...pain is a gift, one that protects our bodies and helps us heal.

Facing the pain head on is one way to optimise the essence of pains in our lives. By choosing to confront it as part of our day-to-day reality can lead us to extracting its maximum benefits, and choosing the opposite way is also just prolonging the agony and misery by not dealing with it. You are at the disposal to choose whether it is gift-pain or pain-gift.

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