Permit Your Pain to Become the Pain

 

“Your pain, deep as it is, is connected with specific circumstances. You do not suffer in the abstract. You suffer because someone hurts you at a specific time and in a specific place. Your feelings of rejection, abandonment, and uselessness are rooted in the most concrete events. In this way all suffering is unique. This is eminently true of the suffering of Jesus. His disciples left him, Roman soldiers tortured him and crucified him.

Still as long as you keep pointing to the specifics, you will miss the full meaning of your pain. You will deceive yourself into believing that if the people, circumstances, and events had been different, your pain would not exist. This might be partly true, but the deeper truth is that the situation which brought about your pain was simply the form in which you came in touch with the human condition of suffering. Your pain is the concrete way in which you participate in the pain of humanity.

Paradoxically, therefore, healing means moving your pain to the pain. When you keep focusing on the specific circumstances of your pain, you easily become angry, resentful, and even vindictive. You are inclined to do something about the externals of your pain in order to relieve it; this explains why you often seek revenge. But real healing comes from realizing that your own particular pain is a share in humanity’s pain. That realization allows you to forgive your enemies and enter into a truly compassionate life. That is the way of Jesus, who prayed on the cross: “Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus’ suffering, concrete as it was, was the suffering of all humanity. His pain was the pain.

Every time you can shift your attention away from the external situation that caused your pain and focus on the pain of humanity in which you participate, your suffering becomes easier to bear. It becomes a “light burden” and an “easy yoke” (Matthew 11:30). Once you discover that you are called to live in solidarity with the hungry, the homeless, the prisoners, the refugees, the sick, and the dying, your very personal pain begins to be converted into the pain and you find new strength to live it. Herein lies the hope of all Christians.”

~Henri  J.M. Nouwen

 

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Let God Speak Through You

“You are confronted again and again with the choice of letting God speak or letting your wounded self cry out. Although there has to be a place where you can allow your wounded part to get the attention it needs, your vocation is to speak from the place in you where God dwells.

When you let your wounded self express itself in the form of apologies, arguments, or complaints–through which it cannot be truly heard–you will only grow frustrated and increasingly feel rejected. Claim the God, in you, and let God speak words of forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation, words calling to obedience, radical commitment and service.

People will constantly try to hook your wounded self. They will point out your needs, your character defects, your limitations and sins. That is how they attempt to dismiss what God, through you, is saying to them. Your temptation, arising from your great insecurity and doubt, is to begin believing their definition of you. But God has called you to speak the Word to the world and to speak it fearlessly. While acknowledging your woundedness, do not let go of the truth that lives in you and demands to be spoken.

It will take a great deal of time and patience to distinguish between the voice of your wounded self and the voice of God, but as you grow more and more faithful to your vocation, this will become easier. Do not despair; you are being prepared for a mission that will be hard but fruitful.”

~Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Inner Voice of Love

Bloom where you are planted. For even if you are seen as a weed of little value, with the proper perspective, you increase the beauty of creation when you let the light of the Lord shine forth to be a contrast to those around you.

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