One of the greatest teachers in life is pain. Success can make you complacent, but pain will teach you lessons you will never forget. This does not mean you should seek pain, because pain will seek you out and find you. In order to live a good life though, pain is necessary.
The pain of touching a burning stove will teach you to be cautious when cooking. The pain of a failed relationship will teach you what kind of things you want to avoid in your next relationship. Pain can even teach you some unpleasant truths about yourself.
The unpleasant things we have done in our life can produce feelings of regret and guilt, and we tend to hide these feelings because it can be painful to go there. It is a land we do not want to dwell in too long, and it would be unhealthy to take up a permanent residence.
But there are times we must go back there in order to remind ourselves of what caused the regret and guilt in the first place. Mistakes we have made, and times we have said or done something hurtful, need to be brought into the light so we can continue to grow in love and wisdom.
Learning from the dark side of our nature is what the season of Lent is all about. We bring the sins we have committed into focus not in order to soak in the mire of our depravity, but so we can plant and nurture the seeds of love and wisdom. Lent is a time of growth, a springtime of the soul.
In fact, the word “lent” comes from the medieval word for “lengthen”, and this same word was also a term used to denote springtime. The days become longer and the sun shines brighter day by day. It is the lengthening of the hope that the stark cruelty of winter has passed, and the joy of springtime is upon us.
Lent is a time of transition from darkness into light, despair into hope, and an expectation of better things to come. It is one last look back at the pain and a reminder that, out of great pain, can come the seeds of great joy. A lesson that is well worth learning.