Two Painful Choices

As sure as the sun will rise every day, you will experience pain. 

Recently I was injured in an accident. I was bruised physically. Over the first few days, my mind was consumed with what I couldn’t do. The pain was always there to remind me when I had overexerted myself. 

Needless to say, that was discouraging. 

Pain doesn’t have to be just physical. Emotional pain can hurt worse and take longer to heal than bruises. 

When we are injured or sick, we are more inclined to get professional help. But when we are hurt emotionally, we tend to retreat into ourselves. This can result in bitterness, despair, and isolation. 

And if we don’t seek help, we may never recover. 

Pain offers us just two choices.

The first choice is more natural. It comes from our desire to get even. Part of this is an objective sense of justice where crimes are punished appropriately. The trouble comes when we make justice personal. We won’t be satisfied unless the person who has hurt us has suffered more pain than we have. When we deal with life’s hurts in this way, we’ve chosen to be bitter. 

Bitterness poisons your heart. It replicates itself like a computer virus. Unless you apply a new code, eventually that virus will destroy you. 

Often it takes someone else’s intervention to repair the damage. 

Fortunately, there’s another choice that will bring you back to health. 

When I was younger, I let the harsh words of a teacher ring in my ears for a dozen years afterward. I never told anyone about it. I just reacted in the way I felt would protect me. I shut out the world and any deep relationships with people so they couldn’t penetrate my armor.

That all changed after I read a good book. 

I took all those years of pain and stopped the bleeding by applying a new code to my life. I made the second decision to be better. And that has made all the difference in how I deal with pain now. 

Pain puts you at a crossroads. You do have a choice. You can be bitter, live in misery, and stifle your effectiveness. Or you can get better, learn from the experience, and make the best of it that you can. 

If you want to live well, choose the better way.