Throughout my lifetime I have come to understand that our lives as human beings are littered with both incredible beauty and intense pain. There were times particularly earlier in my life, where I found myself asking ‘Why me?’ In those moments of heartbreak and wonder I’m not sure I ever really found an answer to that question. The more I searched, the more intense the pain seemed to become.
As I journeyed on I learnt there was greater value in asking different questions of myself. Yes, it was important to acknowledge that some things I experienced simply weren’t fair. However, to dwell in that space would only produce bitterness and greater pain, which would hurt me more than anyone else.
I’m not exactly sure at what point I discovered this new approach to doing life, however I do know that it evolved out of a desire to see the pain I had experienced be turned around for something good, something healing, something life-giving to help others in their journey through pain.
When we choose to see or search for purpose in our challenges and plain awful situations we can find incredible solace and healing.
There is something that our human hearts seem to love, and that is hearing a story of someone who has faced adversity or loss and journeyed through the associated difficulties to a place where it could be considered they have ‘overcome’ (or continue to persist in the process of ‘overcoming’) the obstacles and challenges they face as a result.
There are countless individuals who come to mind who have found themselves in such a place. Rosie Batty, Australian Domestic Violence Campaigner; Bethany Hamilton, Shark Attack Survivor, Pro-Surfer and Amputee; The Riewoldt Family; Walter Mikac; Neale Daniher; Nick Vujicic; Oprah Winfrey – just to name a few you may be familiar with.
And then there are the ‘everyday people’ whose stories don’t make the news headlines – the mother of 4 children in our child’s school community who is battling cancer, but finds her purpose in preparing her children for life without her and living life to the full with the time she has left. The young mother who chooses to see her pregnancy through to term despite knowing her baby won’t survive more than a few hours due to identified disabilities not compatible with life, and in her grief makes a decision to lobby for significant change to benefit mothers in her situation in the future. The parent whose daughter is tragically killed in a car accident and chooses to become a Helpline Phone Counsellor to help other people dealing with their grief and pain. These individuals’ journeys are filled with pain and heartache, yet their ability to discover meaning and purpose through their pain remains incredibly inspiring!
I could spend the next few hours filling these pages with tragic circumstances and inspiring stories. But what is it that helps people to see some kind of ‘hope’ through the most unimaginable human pain?
For me personally, after losing my sister suddenly to a mystery ‘brain-related’ illness at the age of 11, and the ensuing years of asking ‘Why?’, I was led to a place where (although I wasn’t okay with what had happened) I came to believe that there could still be good to come out of such a heartbreaking event. That my pain, or at least the memory of my pain, would never be far away, but I considered my life all the richer for having ‘been there’. And if, at the very least, it meant that I could genuinely empathise with others after me who found themselves in such a place, to help them feel validated in their heartache; or to journey long-term through the process of grief and pain to a place of healing and discovering their purpose…well, in my eyes, it would make something of a difference to whoever I was able to offer that to, fulfilling a basic human need to feel heard and understood. For me, that is and has been, perhaps my greatest driver over the past two and a half decades of my life. Perhaps it was through the heartache and pain throughout that time, that I was to discover my purpose.
I don’t necessarily believe that we need to go through a tragic, heartbreaking event in order to discover our purpose. However, when we do face tragedy or intense pain, a passion is often ignited, which in turn can blaze a way through to discover a new meaning and purpose for our life (unique to each individual) that can bring an incredible sense of hope and fulfilment.
If you are wondering how your painful experiences might point toward a new-found purpose, ask yourself:
“What is it that fires me up?”
“What is it that makes me feel like I’m really ‘buzzing’, like I’m in my ‘sweet spot’?”
Your answer, your purpose may just lie on the other side of your pain!
With you on this journey,