Let’s pretend for a minute that you’re a string player or a guitarist (that is, if you’re not one already). You’re at the beginning of your newfound musicianship, picking up this instrument that is foreign to you. The first few times you pick it up, you’re motivated to keep up with practicing it. But soon enough, your fingertips begin to hurt, a phenomena you’ve probably never experienced before this very moment. You realize that in your attempt to make music, it is accompanied with pain. The constant friction of your fingers working hard to produce a tolerable melody comes at a cost: your comfort.
But you don’t give up. You play through the pain and you learn to cope with it. Eventually, the buzzing that waters down the guitar sounds or the screeching of your stringed instrument disappears and you’re left with the mature sound of the instrument, much like the sound you hear when it’s played on the radio. During your playing, you’ve found that your fingertips have hardened. They are now callused and you no longer feel pain.
Life is a lot like this.
Our humanity begs for us to express, from words on a page to words spoken; from melodies sung to melodies played; from honing our craft that encourages observation and order to the ones that beckon the free spirit of creativity and imagination. For some of us, these are means of coping with the pain we encounter in our lives. In fact, there are those who admit how some of their art has been born out of pain. And much like our physical bodies, though they may experience immense pain, eventually it is no more. And as we venture into new territories in our unique human experiences, the cycle of pain, learning through the pain, and coping continues to repeat itself over and over again.
There are some of us, out of the fear of experiencing the sting of hurt and heartache, that turn cold, shocking those around us who truly love and care for us. Our past miseries have taught us that no one can be trusted and so our walls around us are built high to guard us. We think to ourselves if I let no one in, I can’t be hurt. And there are those of us who find ourselves more vulnerable and our pain drives us to expression through tears, through art, or even exercising.
Whatever the occurrence, whether physical, social, or internal, we would much rather not deal with the ache pain brings. But as we grow, some of us find that not all pain is bad, that it can be an indication of danger much like our hands are when it mistakenly comes in contact with a hot object. We discover that there are lessons in pain or that is serves a purpose, much like it does for the accomplished guitarist. There are others of us who find God through the pain, an experience which encourages some and perplexes others.
Whatever the case may be, whether it be in the coping or the learning, we can’t help but fight against discomfort. And pain is no exception.
We callus in order to survive.