“Can you allow your greatest pain to become your greatest teacher”?  I’ve heard this challenge issued before.  Maybe you have too.
It makes me take a deep deep breath… Pain a teacher? Something good can come out of the hurt places in life?
I think so.  I think that’s exactly how it can go.
A few years ago, I was Christmas shopping with my Mom and we were talking about life.  The conversation was getting deeper as we were in the car going from mall to mall, and before you know it, we were talking about some pretty painful bits in our past.  I shared with Mom how I had processed through some difficult events, and she shared her process, and as conversations like that go….it felt pretty good.
Then, I shared this…
Someone had recently asked me who my greatest teacher was, and without hesitation I named a person who had hurt me in the deepest way.  Mom kinda looked at me sideways and I continued to explain my thoughts.  It wasn’t that the gentle and loving people in my life weren’t meaningful teachers.  I have been blessed with so many people that make life worth living.  For surely they had taught me about unconditional love, joy, acceptance, encouragement and many more beautiful lessons.  But what was also true was that the painful times in my life had taught me lessons that have brought me to this place.
And this place is pretty good.
I am in a place where I like who I am and what I do.  That hasn’t always been the case.  This person that I am would not be possible without the really painful lessons from some pretty skilled instructors.  I had realized that the most painful moments in my life had become my greatest teachers.  These past incidents of betrayal, rejection and abandonment (icky words and tough stuff to live through) had taught me about self-acceptance, forgiveness, freedom, self-esteem, and resilience in ways I would never have known otherwise.  In those toughest of moments I was able to learn about what I am really capable of, of turning into myself for validation, of accepting what I cannot change, and finding out (maybe just glimpsing) what I am really capable of doing and having in my life.
I get that these lessons and teachers don’t feel good, and I don’t want to minimize the discomfort they bring, but shifting your perspective away from the pain and into the lesson can be extremely helpful.
Don’t get me wrong…. I am not volunteering to go back through those times; I don’t look back on them and think, “hey, that was awesome”.  They didn’t feel good then, and they aren’t happy memories today, but I am profoundly grateful for the intimate understanding that these lessons have taught me.
This isn’t easy.  I know.  The raw vulnerability of painful lessons can be excruciating.  Soften around the pain.  Let it be your teacher.
The other side is a beautiful place,

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