What is the Gift? I’m not talking about the actual physical gift delivered to your door from Amazon. I’m talking about something much more abstract and very difficult to find. I’m talking about the Gift in your pain or life struggle.

WHAAAAAT? That’s crazy talk, right? “There’s no Gift in my pain or my struggles!” you say. Well, yes, there is.

As human beings, when faced with a painful dilemma or difficult struggle, it’s our natural instinct to fix it, solve it, fight it, avoid it, and even run from it. Sometimes we can’t fix it or solve it or fight it. It just is.

For example, I’m thinking of diseases like Alzheimer’s or alcoholism or diabetes. Your mother has Alzheimer’s. Your daughter is an active alcoholic. You are a diabetic. There’s no fix, no solution, no cure. You can try to fight each disease, but you won’t win. They are all incurable diseases. It’s painful and it’s a struggle. The emotions actually HURT in our body. Now what?

Our next instinct is to avoid or run from the pain or struggle. We have SO MANY ways to avoid our pain… Food, drinking (“It’s just a couple glasses of wine!”), shopping (“It was on sale!”), social media, work, isolating so we don’t have to talk about it, etc. You get what I’m saying. At the end of the day, we STILL have our pain and our struggle. We try so hard to avoid it, but it keeps coming around. Now what?

Well, you have a choice. You can keep running on the hamster wheel of “fix it, solve it, fight it, avoid it,” OR you can start searching for the Gift. There truly is a Gift within all our pain and struggles. We find the Gift when we embrace the pain and the struggle (UGH!) and when we stop fighting and running (ICK!).

“How do we do THAT?” you ask. Here it is, simple, but not easy: Stop, breathe, close your eyes and step into the pain. Stand in it. Be present. FEEL IT with all its discomfort and ugliness swirling around you. Resist the strong urge to run. Be uncomfortable. The Gift is right there in the middle of it all. Find it and receive it. There is power and freedom in the Gift. What is the Gift?

“We may thank God that we can feel pain and know sadness, for these are the human sentiments that constitute our glory as well as our grief.”

~ Eugene C. Kennedy, author and Professor of Psychology