Oddly enough, this post begins with a summary of what's to follow.
Pain has a place in our lives and can cause change, healthy and unhealthy, to take place.
Pain still sucks! And... I try to avoid it.
If you're still reading, then let's dive in. There are three defining moments of pain in my life. One was physical, one was emotional, and third was one I caused. Not one did I enjoy! Not one would I ask for or wish upon anyone else. Ugh... Here we go.
The worst physical pain I have felt was the first full tear of my ACL in my right knee. Yes, that's right. I tore it a second time (they have a lifespan) and a third (I'm not doing surgery again and am unable to play any sport that requires cutting, although I still snow ski). The first was the worst. It was the summer of 1996 and I was 21 years old. I was serving as a counselor at Warren Willis United Methodist Youth Camps in Leesburg, Florida. Typically, on the weekends when the kids were all gone, an over-the-top competitive game of basketball and sometimes beach volleyball would take place. We played to win! I found myself on a fast break on an outdoor court with one defender ahead of me. I planned to drive to my right, crossover to the left, avoid the defender (breaking his ankles was truly what I hoped for), and make the layup. I drove to the right and as soon as my foot hit the ground... POP! My leg collapsed and my body fell. It was loud. It was obvious. Something was broken. Paid radiated throughout my body and the world went black. I said words I had never heard before and have yet to utter again. I may have invented a few curse words in that moment, too. That night changed, in the amount of time it took to take a running step the night had changed. In fact the next six months of my life were now different than I would have imagined earlier that same day.
Pain set my life on a new trajectory. It carries on to this day.
One June 8, 2009, my father, Budd Johnson, died. Although the closeness of our relationships varied at times, I had never been closer with than in the final years of his life. I can remember the day he called me to tell me that the doctors had discovered a brain tumor. I was driving on I4 in Orlando and my world seemed to stop. I knew our time was short, and I had not always made the most of it. He was a pastor and was in the middle of preaching when his head started pounding. I asked what he did next and he would tell me that he sat down on the altar and finished his sermon. This was the type of father I came to know. He put others before himself, help to comfort those who were hurting, and always sought joy through each moment. In the two years that would follow, I would make frequent trips from the east coast to the west coast of Florida to spend one more day, to have one more moment with my father, never knowing which would be the last. We took walks together, we talked about life in ways we had never before, and we laughed and cried together frequently. My dad introduced me to Star Wars, played Asteroids for hours with me, taught me how to build a radio driving my love for technology, and encouraged me to solve challenge and problems know that the journey to the solution was as wildly important as the solution itself. I miss him daily!
Though I dare not dwell on it, pain is a friend who visits me regularly.
Here's the other reality of pain. I have often caused others to experience it. Each time, I feel the weight of the hurt I have caused. Each time, I'm ashamed of what I have done. Felling rejected and cast out is always painful for me and is why this next story continues to be a reminder in my life. During summer break one year in high school, a group of us decided that we would go down to Bayshore Dr (Tampa, FL) to watch the fireworks. As we were getting ready to leave we spoke with one more friend who asked if we could pick him up. Although, the car was full and we were even sitting laps in the back seat, we said we'd be right over. I don't remember who suggested it, but as the driver of the car, I bear full responsibility, and we drove right on by while he stood outside his house waiting for us. Certainly shock, disappointment, and disgust were experienced, not too mention that deep sense of being left out. We didn't talk anymore after that. In fact, it would be roughly fifteen years until we spoke again. That moment haunted me. I was so caught up in my own world, that I could cause that kind of hurt to someone else. I had to wrestle with the fact, that a part of who I was had the capability to hurt other in that manner. That's not who I want to be, and I need to do something about it. For about six months, I would see his face recommended to me as a potential friend on Facebook. I began feeling the nudge to reach out and offer an apology and to seek reconciliation. This is who I was becoming and am still becoming today. Only through the process of reconciliation can we combat the pain that we are capable of.
Pain has been a driving force for me to practice both seeking and offering forgiveness to others.
Oh and... pain sucks!