Mark Twain once said, “He who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

As we read that statement, we smile because it vividly paints a picture of the consequences that result from that ill-conceived decision. We also smile because we can so easily apply this maxim to our latest painful experience that we wished we could have avoided. However, as we look back at it, we must admit that the lessons we learned could only have been grasped through personal involvement.

It would be wise to ask ourselves if painful experiences are always negative or if happy experiences are always positive. We want our lives to flow smoothly without any “flat tires” along the roadway of life but, when we view the big picture of our lives, is this always best for us?

Brennan Manning gave poignant perspective to this when he said, “The road I’ve traveled these last thirty-eight years is pockmarked by disastrous victories and magnificent defeats, soul-diminishing successes and life-enhancing failures.”

Perhaps some of our joyous celebrations shrink our hearts while some of our pain and suffering generate heart growth.

Food for thought.