Destructive or Constructive pain?

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Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 (ESV)

Pain has a way of making something memorable.  Try this for yourself.  Find any scar on your body and think where it came from.  In most, if not all, cases you can remember the details of the event.  

John Maxwell says it well. “Good management of bad experiences leads to Great Growth”. It is not the bad experiences that lead to your growth, but the good management of a bad event.  Here are five things you need to do to turn negative events into positive training moments.  

1. Have a positive attitude

Do not let any experience determine your attitude.  You should choose your attitude.  I met a girl this week, 24 years old, who has a deteriorating muscle disease.   More than muscles only, the disease is crippling everything from her eyesight to her hearing.  Although sickness bound her to a wheelchair and having someone else takes care of her, she was friendly, positive and encouraging.  When I commented on her friendly demeanour, she smiled and said, “This disease cannot take away my joy.” Although forming the words was an effort, she did not loose her smile.

We were all impacted by her attitude towards life.  She was positive, joyful, and encouraged everyone around her and made quite a difference in their lives.  I wish we could all embrace negative experiences with such an attitude.

2. Be teachable

Have the mind of a learner.  Always look at what you can gain from the experience no matter how bad it is.  I once heard someone say, “I can learn something from any book.  Even if I learn not to be as negative as the author.”

When you have a growth mindset, you will look for opportunities to learn something new.  These opportunities are all around us.  It takes a learner to see a lesson in a garbage dump.  When others see trash, a learner will see a lesson.  No matter what you are going through, there is gold in your experience.

3. Be humble

Humbleness brings wisdom.  When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 (ESV).  To have a humble heart means you position yourself to receive wisdom from God.  Wisdom is priceless.  Whatever you do, make sure you gain wisdom.  

A traveler once went through a small town and saw an elderly man sit next to the road.  He went to the man and asked, “Has any great men been born in this town?”  The old man looked at him and answered, “No, only babies were born here.” We are all equal in nature. What distinguishes us from each other is our hearts.

Greatness is reserved for the humble.

4. Have faith

The fundamental flaw in any human heart is failing to believe God is good.  God is good no matter what you are going through.  If you could see things from God’s perspective for only a second, you would realise there is nothing that can separate you from His goodness. 

When God’s goodness is the foundation of your heart, you will never fail to find meaning in anything, no matter how awful.  When you live with an eternal perspective, you will remove your eyes from the temporary pain of life.  This will bring the joy of the Lord into your heart and give you the wisdom to solve difficulties with faith. 

5. Implement change

No amount of knowledge can change your life unless you act upon it.  It is only when you implement the lessons learned from your painful experience that you will gain anything from it.  Take responsibility for your life and act upon the things you have learned. 

My little boy hates it when his cereal gets soggy in the milk.  Instead of eating it immediately after he poured the milk into it, he still, after many times, leaves it to get soggy.  He knows it happens and understands the cause and effect of the situation.  Yet, for some reason unknown to me, he still takes his time and ruins his breakfast.

You see, his bad experience taught him a lesson and he carries full knowledge of what is going wrong.  His problem is with the implementation.  He doesn’t take responsibility for it himself.

Unless you own your own life and take responsibility for the outcome of your life, you will never grow. 

Do not get stuck in the painful moments of life.  Learn from them and grow.