Transforming Our Pain by Richard Rohr
All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. Great religion shows you what to do with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust. If only we could see these “wounds” as the way through, as Jesus did, then they would become “sacred wounds” and not something to deny, disguise, or export to others.
If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter. Indeed, there are bitter people everywhere. As they go through life, the hurts, disappointments, betrayals, abandonments, the burden of their own sinfulness and brokenness all pile up, and they do not know where to put it. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.
Exporting our unresolved hurt is almost the underlying storyline of human history. Biblical revelation is about transforming history and individuals, so that we don’t just keep handing the pain on to the next generation. Unless we can find a meaning for human suffering, that God is somehow in it, and can even use it for good, humanity is in major trouble.
Genesis 1:1-3 NRSV
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
Isaiah 45:17-18 NIV
Israel is saved by the Lord with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity. For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): I am the Lord, and there is no other.
May the God of the heavens
and of the earth
enter into the place within you
that holds the keenest chaos,
the deepest mystery,
the most intense darkness
may the God of
sun and moon
stars and seasons
breathe the words
that will bring forth
a new world.
-Jan L. Richardson, In the Sanctuary of Women
It is with great joy that I recommend the art, writing, and speaking ministry of Jan Richardson. It’s a blessing to know Jan and to live near her, so I’ve sat in her circle many times as God used her to break open a new place in my heart that was in need of light and love. You’ll find the door to her many blogs and offerings here.