Originally written in April 2010
I’ve been thinking a bit introspectively lately. For those of you who like to keep things simple, I mean that I’ve been thinking about myself lately. This hasn’t been out of selfishness, though I struggle with that aplenty; no, these thoughts have been centered on looking at myself to learn some things about where I’ve been and where I need to improve.
Now unless you are my mother, I think we can all agree that I need to improve….ah, who am I kidding? Even my mom would say that I could use some improving!!
But before we go down that path, I’ve been looking backwards some as well, and I’d like to share something I was meditating on recently. My life has had it’s share of pain. Now you are thinking, ‘Get in line, Ed!’, and that’s fair enough. We all have our personal struggles. I’d like to think about something that has come out of my pain.
You see I’ve grown a lot through pain. Something terrible happens, either something I’ve done or something that happened to me, and I begin to react. Hopefully, I grow and develop new ______ . (you can fill in the blank with any number of things; humility, coping skills, empathy, awareness, faith…the list is endless) We don’t always grow through pain, sometimes we let the pain consume us. Sometimes we try to bury the pain and pretend it’s not there. But I was pleased to realize that much of the pain in my life has spurred growth that was badly needed. That got me thinking about oysters….
Yeah….I know….I don’t understand how my mind works either…
An oyster has to open it’s shell to feed. It’s shell is the only thing that protects it from the wider world of the ocean floor. Lots of things can happen to the tender flesh of the oyster when it’s exposed, but one thing that happens every so often is that some parasite or perhaps a piece of grit drifts in. It responds by encasing the intruder in calcium carbonate, which is the same stuff that it’s shell is made of. It’s funny bc oyster shells are ugly and not collected for anything. Yet after layer upon layer of calcium carbonate on that source of pain, the oyster makes a beautiful, glossy pearl that people value greatly. I’ll leave you to connect the dots on why that is.
Now back to each of us and our pain. I believe as we grow and develop through our pain, it’s like layers on that pearl. One day we look back on the terrible things that have happened and realize that something beautiful has formed out of the pain!
Jesus referred to the pearl of great price in one of his shortest parables. He said that when a person finds one, they would give all that they have to get it. It’s interesting, bc if you did that, you would be no better off for having it, bc it cost you everything. The idea is that it is so beautiful, and so important to you, that it is priceless.
If we grow through our pains, we create of lifetime of pearls. Pearls made beautiful by Christ working through us and in us. Pearls that are worth everything we are! Life is pain. Love is pain. Don’t run from it, bury it, or wallow in it. Grow through it.