Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Search for Purpose/Meaning

One thing I felt deeply about during my infertility journey was the search for purpose/meaning in my pain experience. What is the purpose of this pain experience? Can I find some meanings from all this chaos? 

When someone is wallowing in grief, when someone's just experienced a tragedy, we will normally let the person grieve and wallow. Only after some time of wallowing and grieving, when the person can feel the wind on her cheeks and the sun on her body again, then it's good time to try to find some purpose/meaning in the tragedy (pain experience).

One of the things that has helped me is finding the purposes/meanings of my pain experience. The buried and broken dream can become fertilizer for something else that way. Otherwise the buried and broken dream will stench and I'd end up focusing on the rottenness of the stench and that wouldn't propel me forward in my healing journey. Once I get a clearer sense of some of the purposes/meanings of my pain experience, I am more able to focus on the tiny buds growing from the ground that is being fertilized by that buried/broken part. It's true that every now and then I can still smell the stench, but over time the more meanings/purposes I find, the more seeds are growing from the ground and the easier it gets to focus more on the growing buds/trees/flowers.

No wonder many times over I've read how people overcome a tragedy by creating an organization to honor their loved ones' memories as well as help other people who may be experiencing a similar thing. 

During my worst moment in my IF journey, I found a purpose to my pain despite the fact that I was really angry at that time (or maybe because I was angry, my pride wouldn't let me feel like all that pain and anger were for nothing). At that time I felt the need to cut myself (though I didn't do it), but it was only then and there did I get a real glimpse of why some people do it. That was an important moment for me, because that experience adds a layer of understanding from my part towards others in a more straightforward and personal way (as opposed to learning about it from someone else's experience).
I also remember finding someone who walks through an infertility path as well (though she walked a different path), but during her tough times she thanked me for being there for her and for not saying the wrong words. That was one of my first inklings of the purpose of my pain experience. If my shared experience makes just one person feel less alone, then it's one purpose. One seed. 

During the dark moments, I also found comfort when I read these verses from 2 Cor 1:3-4:

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

These verses spoke through me and reminded me of what I had written in my previous post: what another blogger had once told me about my being a good encourager. Another purpose added to the layer of purpose above, thank you very much.

I find it crucial to believe with all my heart and soul that my pain experience isn't for nothing when it comes to continuing my healing journey. Your pain is not for nothing, either. We are interconnected. Imagine the wealth of wisdom we get to learn from one another's pain experiences. So much fertilizer material everywhere...what has your pain experience taught you? I find it helpful to write about them, as well, because when I'm in my dark spot, I can always go back and reread them and feel encouraged by them again.


  1. I don't really believe there is a purpose to our pain. But I do know that we search I think to give some meaning to that pain. And for me, volunteering and helping others helped do that. It comforted me. I think we all look for that - we don't want to feel that it was all in vain. That we suffered and came out just the same, or worse than we were before. Maybe some people react that way. But most I've seen, as you say, have grown through their pain, developed empathy, compassion, wisdom, and have gone on to help others. Your writings do that, and they don't help just you when you need to go back and read them. They help us all.

    1. Many years ago I saw an Oprah show that introduced a young girl who couldn't feel anything (couldn't feel any pain, couldn't tell if it was hot or cold). She ended up losing one eye (she kept on poking on it until she lost the ability to see) and she chewed on many fingers (if I remember correctly) until they were bent out of shape...that episode opened my eyes to why we feel physical pain. Alarm bells for us to let us know something is wrong inside us.

      When it comes to emotional pain, aren't psychopaths unable to feel emotions? I remember during my long-distance relationship we had to freeze our hearts to some extent because the longing was becoming unbearable, but that also disabled me to feel full joy. It was like I was half-dead and half-alive emotionally. Not a good way to live.

      Anyway, just my POV. Thank you for sharing yours and also for your kind words. Thank you for being such an inspiration and for having encouraged me all this time. :-) You have also helped me a lot with your brilliant writings. :-)

    2. Just want to add here that I still struggle with many things when it comes to thinking of them as having a purpose/meaning, for example people who have mental illness that disable them from being independent at all. Still so much food for thought.

  2. Powerful thoughts here. I often reflect on how much the compassion and kindness of our tight knit, yet geographically dispersed community

  3. ...oops technical error in commenting. Let me finish my thought: provides such a warm and welcoming tonic to what was such searing pain. Grateful for you and my sisters who give of themselves so generously

    1. You took the words out of my mouth, Pamela. Your book and blogs have really helped me through a tough period in my infertility journey as well as many other women's blogs and thoughts and experiences. I'm also grateful for all those people who are open with their journeys.


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