On Pain…

We all have pain.

We have all survived something. That’s the nature of life.

It’s easy, of course, to look at other people and imagine that they have no pain at all. The Instagram highlight reel is absolute perfection, so we assume everything else must be perfect too. If we have learned anything from the double-shock of losing Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain in one week, however, it is that we could not be further from the truth.

We all have pain.

Not one to indulge in celebrity culture, I was quite taken aback by how much Bourdain’s choice to die caught me off guard. I haven’t been able to write as consistently because I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around this heartbreak. How can someone so incredible, with such an abundance of God-given gifts, who brings such light to the world, be so overwhelmed by darkness behind closed doors?

Why did he have to go like this?

We all have pain.

Let me share a few personal stories…

When I was in high school, a classmate of mine seemed to suddenly withdraw and started skipping class. When he did show up, my teachers reacted in disdain at his disheveled appearance and lack of sleep. Angered by his behavior, the school management sent him to the secondary campus, where all the “delinquents” belonged. He had almost lost his sister to a car accident that had left her paralyzed. Nobody knew this because they assumed “he must be on drugs, or something”.

We all have pain.

She lied about having cancer to her boyfriend and, eventually, her entire social network, because she hoped that this would cause them to love her more. She was afraid of being left alone again. When everyone found out, they could not understand her. She ended up alone, after all.

We all have pain.

I heard the most heart-wrenching wail of my neighbor, a father, after he realized that his 4 year old daughter had run into the street, and that he had accidentally hit her while backing up into his driveway. From my window, I saw the men in the entire neighborhood sprinting. They couldn’t save her.

We all have pain.

My great-grandfather, a very small child at the time, was thrown into a clay water jug by his father, who demanded urgently that he should not come out until the coast is clear. A few hours later, his neighbors heard him crying and realized he was hidden there. When they pulled him out, he saw his entire family slaughtered throughout his home. It was a big family. Until today, very few recognize the massacre of my people and my family during the Armenian Genocide.

We all have pain.

He was a tall, broad-shouldered, bullet-proof iron man. I heard him screaming in pain and crying like a baby. I rolled my head into my knees and willed the screaming to stop, willed him to be strong again.

We all have pain.

They tried for 11 years to have a baby. 11 years, they couldn’t have one. No matter what they did, it just couldn’t happen and wouldn’t happen for 11 years. Then, God graced them with a child.

We all have pain.

He threatened her with revealing private pictures to his father if she did not comply with his every command. He raped her repeatedly for 6 months, until someone realized what was going on. She was only 13 years old.

We all have pain.

His father beat him with a water hose whenever he didn’t do well at school. He was known as the kid who always stared at the ground. Nobody did anything about it.

We all have pain.

She had her first child at 17 years old, and the country where she lived wouldn’t recognize the child as her daughter. She had to be registered as her sister. She raised her in secret, finding rejection whichever way she turned. I saw a man staring at her with such hatred in his eyes. “How can they look at a baby,” I asked, “and see anything but beauty and God?” People who judge in God’s name do not know Him.

We all have pain.

They spat on him as he crossed the street, even though he was minding his own business. “Filthy, Christian, pagan!” they yelled at him, “rot in hell!” I watched, in shock, as he wiped the spit from his face and kept walking, mumbling a “God forgive you” under his breath.

We all have pain.

She was happily married for one month when her husband was diagnosed with Leukemia. He died a short year later.

We all have pain.

He told me about all these dreams he had. He wanted to conquer the world. He was known for his kindness, and for his zest for life. He was quite the optimist. At Thanksgiving, as he raised his glass to toast his girlfriend and friends, he suddenly felt his chest contract. Rushing to the ER, I’m sure he had no idea how little time he would be given on this Earth. A congenital heart defect. His heart was too big for this broken little world.

We’ll see you on the other side of Christmas, my friend.

We all have pain.

Open your eyes and see it. Do something about it, no matter how small. We are all responsible for the pain we choose to ignore.

And remember… we design our own luck! Share the message.

M.

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