5.06.2011

the spiritual discipline of groaning

a friend of mine was sharing with me some about pain.  not so much her pain, but pain in others that she could see.  that got me thinking about the difference with which we see our own pain and the pain in other people.  take a minute to think about that.

if you are in a place of sharing, a place where someone feels free to open up about their pain--maybe just a crack in the door, but through that crack you can see so much, how do you view them?  perhaps you may feel a bit embarrassed at the candor.  perhaps you will feel uncomforable at your inability to respond, to do anything for them or about their pain.  but if you are close, you will most likely want to comfort them somehow.


the problem is that we normally are not very good comforters.  we try to speak words that our friend cannot really hear.  we mumbled cliches and trite phrases that are supposed to mean something significant, whether there be any truth in them or not.  if we are at our best, perhaps we will just sit in silence.  maybe a slight touch--nothing coddling. 

this is certainly a significant thing.  but still so often it feels incomplete.  it lacks. 
now think about those moments when you have been the person in pain, if you've had the good fortune to have people in your life with whom you could crack that door.  or possibly a few well-meaning ones who have even pushed it open themselves a bit.  how do you feel?  if i'm not mistaken, we all to some extent feel a tension between holding our pain and releasing out onto others.  for pain to truly be released in that way it must be shared--the other must feel to a degree that pain as well.  this is a burden we do not always like to put on others, even close friends, because we know it will affect them.  our pride invites us to take it all on ourselves and hold that pain.  but no one can bear the weight of the pain of life and really live.  and yet still we are hesitant to share.

this is perhaps why therapy came about.  a sophisticated and socially acceptable way to dump our feelings out--often by staying within the calm detachment of releasing memories of the mind, which subsequently provide a bit of temporary emotional relief through the secondary effects of intellectual insight.  a "good will hunting" breakdown only occurs after much intellectual banter and dancing, and most often that sort of breakthrough never happens--at least with another person.  rarely does therapy lead to significant, lasting healing.

talking it out.  silence.  perhaps if we are able to let go of our pride enough, there is occasionally a moment of breakdown and a touch of the healing of tears.  but this is a rare and difficult place to come to. 

maybe there would be something to learning how to groan with one another, like my friend suggested.  paul says that the spirit intercedes with us with groans too deep for words.  maybe in those occasions where words too much, and silence is not quite enough, we could somehow learn to groan together and for one another in prayer.  that may sound a little strange, especially as we like to keep things close to the chest.  but if there are times when even the Holy Spirit cannot have words, then maybe it would be something good for us to learn as well.

1 comment:

  1. Love this. Thanks for sharing, Luke. It's so strange how hard it can be to really speak words others can hear (and not edit yourself out of pride) as well as really listen without offering that trite "advice" that you mention. I've been really feeling this in the last few years...maybe we get worse at this with age? Or maybe it's just something that I never realized until lately. Anyway, thanks for sharing. What a hopeful answer.

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