Been thinking a lot about pain the last few weeks. I recently finished a wonderful book by Jamie Ford titled Songs of Willow Frost. At the end of the book he said this:
“I was an aspiring writer, fumbling for years with this thing called fiction, but too often I had nothing of substance to write about. It was only after I’d collected enough scars that I found the expository canvas on which to paint my stories…”
Considering my recent, and ongoing, pain of my daughter’s cancer diagnosis, this quote hit home for me as a writer.
Some people seem to go through life with very little strife, or tragedy, or pain. I have had people in my life who appeared to have avoided a lot of the pain I have experienced. I often wondered why some are “spared” while some are apparently “doomed” to excruciating difficulties with health, family, finances, friends, or other things from the long list of earthly troubles.
It doesn’t really make sense in the short-sightedness of our humanity. It’s so easy to ask why, why me, and look to God and exclaim, can we not do this again?! But when we step back and see the bigger picture of life here and then eternity, it’s clear pain has less to do with selection than is does with direction.
Where do we direct our reaction to pain? Pull it inward? Lash out at others? Be angry at God? Or could we possibly turn it into good?
A good author will help the reader connect on a personal level, sometimes reaching deep into their hearts. It’s a good use of pain. As a fiction writer, I hope I will capture the essence of my character’s pain more clearly because of what I have gone through. I hope my readers will find solace, comfort, insight, inspiration, and encouragement in what I write. After all, I want to glean all those things when I read a book.
So we can be changed by our pain, and in turn change others – for the better.
Once we get over the sting of it all, and the gaping wounds begin to heal, we would miss the best part of the process if we neglected to use it for a higher purpose. My friend Mick Silva wrote this:
“With a little pain God brings relief. With a little darkness eventually he brings light. He ordains the contrasts of life to make it rich and meaningful.”
Relief is something we all long for, and I would imagine it comes more readily when we resist the urge to contain our pain in a jar to be taken out in doses when we have a need for pity, justification, or attention.
Are you able to see your pain as a tool of prosperity for someone else?
May 19, 2016
“Expository canvas.” That’s a great phrase. We can learn so much from times of struggle and forget it’s the material God is using to stretch across our lives for us to paint his rich colors on. What an incredible gift….
Thank you, Jan, for being so attentive. Your eyes are sharp and your words so needed.
Jan Cline says
Thanks, Mick, It takes a lifetime to learn to paint well.
Linda Jo says
Thank you, Jan. This is an outstanding post with so much wisdom in it. We all have questions and cry out over pain. You’ve been with the Master and we are benefitting from what He’s given you.
Laurie Klein says
Jan, thank you for sharing more of your journey as well as these stirring quotes from other writers. Know that what you’ve suffered does, indeed, infuse your work with generosity and compassion that’s palpable. Heartening. With prayers for you and your daughter, Laurie