Transforming Pain Into Life & Hope
Over the course of my career as a pastor, I've had numerous opportunities to help people bear painful burdens of loss, betrayal, doubt and fear.
As a result, I've seen how pain can shape us, mark us and often scar us for life.
I have counseled people who learned to deal with their pain, transforming it into hope and eventually new life.
I've also seen others who hold on to their grief like an old, terrible friend--refusing to embrace hope, and never really living.
There have been those who were wounded deeply in childhood, and whose anger still burned so fiercely that they set fire to every relationship they ever had.
And I've encountered the betrayed, who were never able to trust again, and who held the world at arms length, refusing to embrace even those who would love and cherish them.
It's always a mystery to me how some of us are able to transform our pain, and others of us are not. I've often wondered what role our faith has to play in it, and how it serves as a catalyst for our transformation.
Fr. Richard Rohr wrote this:
All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion.It seems to me that when we have a healthy understanding of God and how God sees us, we are more likely to engage in the most important step in transforming our pain: Surrender.
When we trust that there is a loving God, who actually cares about our pain... we are more likely to surrender it, and believe that we can live without it.
When we believe that God is for us, not against us... we are more likely to let go and allow our pain to be transformed into hope.
And when we do this, we learn to truly live again. We don't transmit our pain to others in the form of anger, mistrust, emotional distance, fear and doubt. We lay down our weapons at last, refusing to continue the unhealthy and violent cycles we've become a part of in our hurt.
May this be true for you today and every day. May you learn to surrender your pain to God, and allow God to resurrect it into something more... something beautiful and true.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.