I just finished Henri Nouwen’s The Wounded Healer, and it so perfectly describes what I’ve been passionate about lately. If you want to understand why I believe so deeply in community art, advocation through theater, and organizations like To Write Love on Her Arms, please give this short book a read. It’s worth your while, I promise.
“Those who can articulate the movements of their inner lives, who can give names to their varied experiences, need no longer be a victim of themselves, but are able slowly and consistently to remove the obstacles that prevent the spirit from entering. They are able to create space for Him whose heart is greater than their own, whose eyes see more than their own, and whose hands can heal more than their own… Only those who are able to articulate their own experiences can offer themselves to others as sources of clarification.”
“Through compassion it is possible to recognize that the craving for love that people feel resides also in our own hearts, that the cruelty the world knows all too well is also rooted in our own impulses. Through compassion we also sense our hope for forgiveness in our friends’ eyes and our hatred in their bitter mouths. When they kill, we know that we could have done it; when they give life, we know that we can do the same. For a compassionate person nothing human is alien: no joy and no sorrow, no way of living and no way of dying.”
Maybe we aren’t here to try to be comfortable. Maybe we aren’t here just to get by every day by trying to fill the gaping hole of loneliness we all feel with experiences and other people, or to try to numb ourselves from the pain of disappointment when they fail us. Maybe we are here to be as brave as we can, to choose good, to look each other in the eye and say I know it hurts, to trust that the promises in Scripture of future glory are as true and tangible as the pain we feel right now.
I am a feeler. I am a feeler to a fault. I rely heavily on my feelings to interpret what is real, what is true. And most of the time this feels impossible to swallow. Words like these feel naive and trite in the face of the very real pain behind depression and cruelty and sickness.
There’s a quote from C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain that I haven’t been able to shake ever since I read it last summer:
“Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”
I get so frustrated by not being able to see the specifics of the big picture of God’s plan. I lash out at God because I do not understand. I can’t see how all of this very real brokenness and death can somehow be for His good.
But we are not home. And Jesus’ resurrection from the grave is our promise that there is hope, there is light, that death does not win.
And so I pray for strength, for a soft heart, the eyes to see my own sin, and a willingness to forgive. I press on, even in just small steps, and look for His goodness in little victories, in nature, in the eyes of the brave traveling beside me.