All healthy teaching shows you what to do with your pain, with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust and the undeserved—all of which eventually come into every lifetime. If only we could see these “wounds” as the way through to healing, then they would become sacred wounds rather than scars to deny, disguise, or project onto others. I am sorry to admit that I first see my wounds as an obstacle more than a gift. Healing is a long journey.
If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become cynical, negative, or bitter. This is the storyline of many of the greatest novels, myths, and stories of every culture. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it—usually to those closest to us: our family, our neighbors, our co-workers, and, invariably, the most vulnerable, our children.
Scapegoating, exporting our unresolved hurt, is the most common storyline of human history. Where God comes in is in radically transforming history and individuals so that we don’t just keep handing on the pain to the next generation. Unless we can find a meaning for human suffering, that God is somehow in it and can also use it for good, humanity is in major trouble. Because we will suffer. Even Buddha said that suffering is part of the deal!
When we can hold our pain consciously and trustfully (and not project it elsewhere), we find ourselves in a very special space. Here, we are open to learning and breaking through to a much deeper level of faith, consciousness, and relinquishing a victim mentality. We must all carry the cross of our own reality until God transforms us through it.
Unfortunately, our natural instinct is to try to fix pain, to control it, or even, foolishly, to try to understand it, and get rid of it as soon as possible, and “get on with life”. (As if the pain I am in is not a part of my life and has no purpose). The ego insists on understanding, it want’s immediate answers. Faith in the midst of trial and suffering, is the ability to stand on the threshold, to hold the contraries, until we are moved by grace to a much deeper level and a much larger perspective, where our private pain is not center stage, but a mystery shared with every act of bloodshed and every tear wept since the beginning of time. Our pain is not just our own. It belongs to the community around us, as a testimony of grace, if I embrace it and trust in it’s greater purpose.
In this, we will not deprive the world around us from the healing gift we can offer through our challenges, trials, and suffering, as we are transformed by it.
BH/ Adapted from an article my Richard Rohr