Most of us have seen newborn babies when they are in pain. Theres no question that if you ever have you dont forget it.
When pain comes to visit them, they certainly let you know. Their little faces are almost unrecognizable, contorted and extremely red. Their eyes are tightly closed with tears streaming down their little cheeks like raging rivers. And thats just the visual. The loud, screaming sound they make is just the exclamation point on how they really feel.
Its in our nature as humans to let others know when were in pain, and it starts as infants.
I have to confess that I was just like the baby I described above a few weeks ago as I started having painful and debilitating kidney stones. When those stones drop by uninvited, they are never welcomed in my body. They are one of the few things Ive ever experienced that wetting a rag does not help even a little bit.
Ive found that kidney stones require high-powered drugs. Walking into the emergency room three different times, I certainly thought I was the one in the most pain. When they admitted me into the hospital for surgery, I just knew I was. Its in our make-up to become selfish when we hurt!
During the years, any time I have been in an emergency situation that required a trip to the hospital, it has always left me putting things into perspective. No matter how badly you are suffering, theres always someone else suffering more. And, when you realize that, it makes you stop and think.
I remember when my mother was in a bad car wreck and was in intensive care for almost a month, not leaving the hospital for about three months. The night it happened, we joined a waiting room full of people whose loved ones also were fighting for their lives. Glancing around the room, I saw distress, anguish and pain written on every face. Eyes were red from tears, heads were bowed and hearts were heavy.
When you first arrive, you have probably never seen these people before and dont know the degree of pain their loved one is in. But as each minute slowly ticks by and people come and go, you get to know the others who are distraught and suffering and take on their pain as well. Within those walls and in those less than comfortable chairs, you become one with the group.
When someone gets good news, everyone rejoices. When their family member takes a turn for the worse or passes, everyone willingly offers comfort and hugs. Pain and tragedy is no respecter of persons.
A dark and dismal cloud hovers low over that waiting room, and when a ray of light peeks through, everyone feels it. Although the people in that room come from all types of backgrounds and walks of life, they are unified by grief, hope and prayer.
I remember when my mother was finally released from intensive care into a private room, saying goodbye to the friends we had made in that room was difficult. One day as I was sitting next to Mothers bed in her hospital room, something became very clear to me.
Most of us only think about hospitals and waiting rooms when we are there. When everything is alright, those memories of waiting in pain blur. But every single second of every single day, someone is suffering in a room just like that. Someone is in pain.
I couldnt help but think about all this as I was wheeled from my room to the operating room the other day. At first, I thought my pain had to be greater than anyone elses. But as I passed room after room full of suffering people, I realized that although having kidney stones is no walk in the park, they usually can be treated, allowing normal life to resume.
That was clearly not the case with some of the others. I tried to hold that in my mind as I waited for surgery. I quickly shifted my thought process and said prayers for all the others who were suffering alongside me.
Newborn babies are too young to realize this. They are only concerned about themselves. But when we mature and realize that pain comes in all shapes and sizes, in all forms and intensities and for all ages and walks of life, it is then that we are able to see that there is always someone worse off than we are. There is always someone in more pain!
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