Pain is like a metronome.

That’s such a weird comparison… but I’m learning that it’s super accurate. Metronomes measure time and pain makes me measure time. How. Long. Until. This. Passes. Why am I rushing through this? Metronomes make my students so uncomfortable. They show them where they are wrong… where they are too fast or too slow or uneven. And those students, they cannot handle being wrong, so they push the button or flip the switch and the incessant clicking stops. Then they are free to keep playing incorrectly in the comfort of not even knowing they are incorrect. This drives me to all kinds of insanity. Every half hour of my work day I ask, “Did you use your metronome?” Almost without fail, I receive this reply, “A little. I tried. It threw me off.” And that’s the good kids. The ones who are less obedient… they don’t even ever push the on button. (Then they try to trick me into thinking they did which is pretty funny, honestly. Harry couldn’t fool Snape when he didn’t practice occlumency. You can’t fool me when you didn’t use your metronome.)
Oh my word, I tell them every day that, if they would just leave the clicking on, time will unravel and remake itself into a cognizant and friendly force that amplifies their skills. The problem is, they have to sit in the discomfort of being wrong and not understanding. They need to be still, listen, and not push the dang button. Only then, only with time, only with patience, only with practice, will time begin to make sense and become the greatest ally in their musical development. Not to mention their character development. Seriously, you guys, slow it on down and let the clicking click.
So, I’m having what I refer to as a “flare-up.” Where the pain that is always present in my joints at a low and manageable level becomes blindingly bad. Where I can’t think and almost cut someone off on the road when I have the yield sign and I don’t see the lanes quite right because of the simple matter of my face splitting open and all. Where I almost drink the water in which I’ve been soaking the reeds that like 40 kids have used… because it’s in a vessel on the same table as my water bottle. Glad I managed to avoid that mistake, y’all. Really, really glad. And oh my word, all I can think about is how. to. make. it. stop. All I can think is, how can I rush this process and round the corner to the place where the pain chills out? This is uncomfortable and feels wrong and I feel all wrong and I just want a pill to make it stop. But, in 8ish years of working through this process, I’ve learned that those pills make everything worse in the long-run because they mask the problem. Popping a pill is like popping the metronome off. I fix the symptoms and I’m comfortable again, but the real problem is lurking beneath the surface and potentially only growing worse. So, I endure. And this is what I’ve learned:

When I’m in pain, I have to cue myself to breathe and this breath feels like victory. And I become grateful to my Creator for a simple breath. My heart grows in gratefulness and my selfishness dies a little and Jesus gets the glory for that breath.

When I’m in pain, I can organize my life into a series of tasks that are both manageable and meditative. I tell myself, “Do the next thing.” And I do it. Then, I do the next one. Then the next. Rather than being stressed about the whole, I have no choice but to break the whole into it’s parts and work each part individually. Oh, what a valuable skill to daily practice.

When I’m in pain, I have the strength to defeat my anxiety. “Carry on, Warrior,” I say to myself. And the strength I have in my body to get out of bed and do my life becomes this thing that I am proud to possess. I see myself more the way God sees me, as victorious. Pain shows me that I am strong and courageous in Jesus and who he made me to be.

When I’m in pain, I’m willing to share my heart because I have to explain why I’m not going all the places and doing all the things. Pain makes me courageous enough to be vulnerable. Pain gives me empathy and compassion and breaks down the walls I put up between me and the world. Pain makes me want to make eye contact with my students and text truth to my friends. Pain makes me live like relationship really is the most important thing.

When I’m in pain, I believe in rest. I have no choice but to be still and trust God. Pain both disarms and arms me. Pain clothes me with strength and dignity. Seeing God’s faithfulness in my pain gives me joy to laugh and be glad and to not fear the future.

When I’m in pain, I’m in pain. I can’t escape it and I can’t fix it. I have learned that it will pass and I will have a lot of good days where it is manageable and life is really close to normal. But I’m this “fixer,” who doesn’t like silence and doesn’t like to be out of control can’t control this one. So that leaves me with no choice but to trust the one who actually is in control.

Pain makes me remember that I’m an eternal soul. Pain makes me remember that I am a child of God. Pain makes me look toward the eternal and surrender the temporal. Pain teaches me to measure time in patience and stillness. Pain tells me that rushing never worked and won’t work now. Pain whispers to me that this is only light and momentary affliction and that the weight of glory is the real deal and has already come for me. Someday I’ll get to see it more clearly. So, I’ll let the clicking click.


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