Pain is a common denominator for most of humanity.  On some level, in some way, at varying degrees, with fluctuating force, we all experience pain.  Pain is a broad and wide term for the result or aftermath of great loss, deep hurt, massive devastation, grief, undeserved and left field kinds of circumstances.

If you are privy to get to hear people's stories, there is always a common denominator - pain.  It is brushed somewhere in their words, in their tales, in the stories of their pasts.  Sometimes it is brutally harsh pain that, even in the re-telling of their story, they feel it again.  Usually though the pain lessens, or even exits at some point, the mark it left is still there.

I was reminded of that commonality that threads our humanity together today....

People are highly interesting to me.  They are like a walking book and I love to read them.  Sometimes people will ask me, knowing I love music, "So, what kind of music do you like?"  That is always tough to answer because I genuinely love just the combination of notes that create music.  There is value in pretty much every kind of music, yes even rap, because it shows at the very least rhythm which is a big part of all music.  I feel the same with people.

Because I am curious about people, I want to know about their lives.  The only way I can learn something, anything really in life, is to either do it to experience it myself or ask questions to learn about it.  Some kinds of pain I do not wish to learn about by experience but I want to know about them.  I want to know what makes up that person.  Who they are and why they are that way.  What experiences and backgrounds brought them to where they are and who they are at the moment I am asking them questions.

. . . I was struck with her words.... my son killed himself at age 16.  I really did not know her, but she shared that it was her 37th wedding anniversary.  She peered over me to the picture of my daughter and her husband.  We exchanged information regarding number of children.... We have one daughter, but then she corrected herself with... my son killed himself at age 16. 

That is sort of a show stopping statement.  I put together her age, how long she had been married and realized that her son was now gone as many years as he had lived.  Gingerly I asked how you ever get over that, how you survive it, do you ever let loose of it? 

I could palpably feel her heart as she shared her pain with me.  It wasn't fresh pain, but weathered, wrestled with and peace made pain.  She told me about the day it happened, what she felt, the enormity of the pain that wanted to crush her and ultimately their marriage for a season.  She talked about being suffocated with it and how she found a way out of it.  She shared her faith, her struggle and ultimately her climb out of utter darkness.

She pulled out her wallet and handed me a picture of Robert III, or Rob as they called him.  He was strikingly handsome.  At 16 years old he was a teenage hottie.  I told her so.  She smiled and agreed with me.  Her story, her pain connected to me.   Her human pain and agony and loss made us teammates. 

Deep pain, deep loss can make us softer, more aware of most everything.  She had chosen that path with her pain.  It had washed her hard but not left her that way.  My humanity felt akin to her because of her pain.

. . .I reached for the Kleenex box and shoved them toward Mary.  Wiping her eyes she continued her story.... Her first husband had gotten into drugs and got addicted to heroine.  Their kids had been 18 and 21 when his drug problem sky rocketed and he took his own life. 

There it was again - pain in someone's life.  It was a skin colored thread it seemed in all our lives.

Life with an addict had been hard, full of conflict, anger and confusion over where this addiction disease had taken her husband.  It had caused turmoil in their marriage and ultimately massive loss.  Needless and selfish choices caused horrific agony and trauma to a family.

She stopped and commented that sometimes, though 10 years have passed and she is remarried to a wonderful man, the tears bubble out when she talks about it.  Other times she claimed she can talk about it without being drawn back to the pain.

I got that last statement in living color.  Pain is so terrible you would think, with a bit of time elapsed from its initial intensity, we would never want to allow ourselves to be drawn back to the very thing that brought agony.  But in sharing our pain story we help others with the sting of their own pain as well.  That's part of what can help to make our pain not be wasted or endured for nothing.

Jesus understood pain.  He lived it.  He also showed us that pain leaves a scar, but it doesn't have to ground us.  Actually it can give us power we would never have without having had pain.

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