by Christie Perkins
Tears at bedtime are not all that uncommon. It’s because there is pain. Hunger pains that is. These hunger pains become the outrageous Water Meter Reader.
And it’s not me crying… it’s my little guy.
Now I’ve learned a thing or two about pain in my cancer journey. Most of the time I’m feeling alright but there are times when I understand good old physical pain. Mostly it is in my hip (prime vacation tumor location). I can admit tho, that most of the time I feel quite normal. In fact I feel great!
But, in the reconstruction phase of my cancer journey there have been moments of intense pain (I’ll save that for another post), so I could relate to this little hunger pain.
Yet, I’m not very compassionate.
I’m not compassionate because I’ve slaved in the kitchen a-fixin’ the meal and all I get is a squeal- “I don’t like it,” he says.
I eyeball his plate. Looks exactly like it did when I dished it up ten minutes ago. Hm? Suspicious. I glance quickly at his fork. Not even a smidge of food particles exist on sparkly stainless steel prongs.
No lick of spit. Not even a breathy fog slogs the reflection on the fork. Psh. How can you have an opinion when you haven’t even tried it?
So we play the persuasion game. We try to convince him that this gangly looking beast on his plate could be the new “Orange Chicken.” Everything is related to the one thing that makes it to his stomach without hesitation, good ole’ “Orange Chicken.” (Thank you creators of food that works with my food shirker.) Of the gazillion recipes, this is the one that makes it down the hatch in multiple laps.
“Just try it.” No amount of persuasion seems to work.
His shoulders drop and his eyes frown. Sunshine splits and out pouches his lips. The dinner drama begins.
“Well.” I repeat the same explanation I’ve used for the last 1,264 nights. “You know if you don’t eat dinner you can’t have anything else for the rest of the night?” We explain the consequences of not eating dinner. You know the routine.
“Yeah,” he accepts his consequences and flits off. He’s happy he’s escaped a highly nutritious and delicious meal.
I don’t get it.
He attempts a snack attack… however we hack that.
But then… oh dear. Bedtime arrives. Since he didn’t eat his dinner his stomach is now working on eating him and he’s in pain from his hunger strike.
Immediately my compassion kicks in. His pain is softening me. I’ve been hungry at bedtime before, haven’t you? I usually think I can sleep it off but instead it just bothers me all night long. At some point I have to give in and drag myself out of my bed sauna and venture out in the heat hungry air to get a slice of bread to calm the munchie midnight beast that’s prowling around my stomach.
But, the poor little guy knows he can’t. He chose his consequences and I have to stick to my tongue.
So I teach him a thing about pain that I have learned over the years.
“So, did you know that you can pray to Heavenly Father and ask him to take away your pain?” I say. I’m calm and trusting and knowing and believing. I smile and just pour my confidence on him; I know it can be done. Through some heartfelt prayers and intense work, I’ve felt it in emotional pain and physical pain. I’ve felt the relief after intense leaning on Him. I’ve had many experiences when I’ve had to call on and trust in Him. I believed He could do the same for my little guy- even in hunger pains.
Then the tables turn and I learn a big unexpected lesson about pain. And instead of me teaching him, my little guy is now teaching me about the purpose of pain with his rejected outburst.
Why We Must Have Pain
“No he doesn’t,” he said pouting.
My jaw drops a little. What? This little guy who is so close to heaven is questioning His help. This little guy who has already taught me so much about faith is now shutting it all out from a little hunger pain. I’m a little shocked but I’m curious at his thought process.
“And how do you know that?” I ask as I am reflecting on my prior experiences. He just doesn’t understand how all of this works yet. I mean really, I’m… well I’m not going to tell you my age but I’m older than him and it’s taken me awhile to learn it. I let him vent.
“Because I always ask Him. And He never listens,” he emphasizes the word never and relays to me his prior experiences. Of course he’s probably asked him that.
But then it clicks. Ah. I know He is listening but I suddenly realize there was something I didn’t understand before. The brief pondering of this moment came solid in my head.
Yes. Yes! My little guy is right. He won’t take that pain away. He won’t because if He takes that pain away my little guy will continue to skip dinner every night and just pray that it goes away and it creates a bigger problem then it solves.
Pretty soon my little guy will be wasting away on lack of calories and skipping scary looking dinners (who knew eating could be so frightening… no snide remarks about my cooking). And what good will that do?
So. I just snuggle him and am sorry he has to suffer through self-inflicted hunger pains. But, I am grateful what he has taught me about pain. That we have to have pain. A continuous lolly jolly life teaches us nothing.
Pain Is The Ultimate Teacher
Pain is the ultimate teacher. Pain helps us to learn other things we can’t learn through any other way. Pain helps us to avoid making mistakes that we’ve made in the past. Pain allows us to change our thought processes. Pain helps us learn thing we can’t learn in any other way. Pain changes us. We get to chose if that’s for the better or for the worse. And most of all, that pain helps us to come to rely on and know Him.
So. If you find that pain is ruining your life. Flip it. Let it polish you. Learn the valuable lessons that are awaiting you. Dig down and find how this painful moment is teaching you something far greater than you can learn on your own. Recognize it as the catalyst to becoming something greater.
How? You ask. Simply find the good that you are getting from it. Maybe your pain is deepening your love for those around you. Maybe your pain is helping you develop patience or compassion (and maybe it’s feeding your anger and resentment… it’s really your choice). Possibly, you can’t see the immediate benefits from your pain. Maybe your pain is strengthening you and prepping you for something grander. I believe that pain is your vehicle to something greater if you let it be.
Easier said than done… but just keep noting the good and it will change you for the better. So take your pain… and gain from it. In the meantime I’ll be looking for better recipes. Anyone have any?
Have a great day. Don’t just endure it, enjoy it.
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