He counts the stars and calls them all by name. Psalm 127:4
Have you ever felt so hurt, angry, forgotten, betrayed, or confused by people or life in general that it seemed you had to set the mantle of blame squarely upon some “other”? It does seem that doing so gives us, at least, a brief reprieve from the anguish of it all.
Often something deep in our marrow believes that if we can justify our dark feelings by naming the “cause” (person/s or event/s) of them, then it makes the load a bit easier to carry. At least we can get up one more day, believing the root of our suffering is “out there”.
But is it? Is the root of our suffering really “out there”?
There is an ancient parable that explains the reason why God says he created us, “I was a hidden treasure and longed to be known.” This hints at what scripture reveals again and again… even our perfect Creator had a longing to be seen and known. Just look at his story with the Israelites.
Apparently, he implanted this longing in all of creation as well or why would he bother to not only count but also call the stars by name? So, how much more for we who are fashioned in the image of God?
Wounds—whether physical, emotional, or spiritual—need to be aired and tended to be healed. When they are not, they fester and cause deeper, longer-lasting, and costlier pain.
Henri Nouwen spoke and wrote much of this throughout his life of service. His basic teaching went something like this, “Pain that isn’t healed is passed on to others. Pain that is healed is transformed into grace, compassion, empathy, and further healing for ourselves and others.”.
As with most of the human race, I have a sordid repertoire of pain and disappointment littered throughout my life. While I still cannot say I “like” pain or disappointment, I can say that today I find much treasure in what I used to label as garbage.
The way this transformation is happening slowly-by-slowly is largely due to admitting my need for and opening myself to deep connection—just as my Maker did by creating me, us. Obviously Jesus longed for such connection—as when he asked his best friends to sit up all night with him and pray as he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. He also commonly asked the seeker/sufferer before him, “What do you want?”.
In my mind’s eye, I can see him peering into the eyes of the one standing before him, piercing the thick wall of shame and isolation that kept them “separate”. Forging a deep, soul-connection by naming their wound in the context of connecting with Christ and being vulnerable to name their longing, their desire for healing.
When we are able to admit this need, and open ourselves to risk deep connection with others, we begin to see that our greatest suffering does not haunt us in particular events that occur or even at the words and actions of others, but in our response to them.
When we try to shoulder these pains and disappointments alone, they fester. Even more, we pass the pain onto others around us day-by-day. But when we open ourselves to safe, accepting, and supportive connection, our wounds are transformed into a source of healing. In this way, we become ever more Christ-like, for by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
It is largely for this reason that I have started a small community of seekers/sufferers who, if not ready, are willing to begin exploring where we might be stuck in life and take intentional steps toward freedom.
Some of us can name specific wounds, losses, addictions, or trauma. Others of us simply believe there has to be more than the check list of possessions and achievements that the American Dream defines as success.
All of us want more than surviving life; we want to thrive. We want the Abundant Life, and are building a community that supports and encourages us toward that end.
To learn more, join us each Thursday from 11am – 12pm CST on our FREE Zoom meeting, “From Surviving to Thriving” where everyone is encouraged to share but it is never required of anyone. You may just want to “sit in” and absorb support.
Love, your sister along the journey,
Meeting ID: 849 2870 2034