We are such mysterious creatures. All of us. Our love, our hurt is all so intense.
A few days ago I was unkind to a friend. I'm not sure why exactly. One minute I was laughing at something he said, and then next moment I was rude, abrasive, abrupt. I can't say I feel horribly about it, but I do wonder what my motivation was. Why this friend? In this moment? I remain unconvinced it was random on my part, but still I'm unsure what I was thinking. I didn't apologize directly, but certainly his skin is thicker than mine, and we have moved on past the experience. Whatever forgiveness I needed from him, I received, and we remain good friends...we enjoy one another. Still my words hurt him. Our story includes that experience.
I had a particularly frustrating mediation this week. After two very successful ones, where walls came down and the transformation was lovely, this group wasn't having it.
As I listened, really listened to what was not being said, I could hear the anger and bitterness these two people had for one another and for the situation they were in. Then I heard it...the underlying thing in every one of these situations...the hurt, pain, sorrow, the out-of-control-ness of it all. Sometimes in that moment, I'm able to speak words that make sense, that speak to people's hearts. For some reason, I didn't have the words this time. I tried, but they were not able to hear me just yet. When I felt they could not hear me, I felt tension set in for me. My voice was getting louder, I was becoming more abrasive. I think I was thinking if they would just *listen* to me, I could make them understand. I could fix their problems.
I'm continually reminded, in the midst of a two hour session with a divorcing couple, that there is very little I know about who these two people are. What I am observing is who they are allowing me to see. I am perceiving them at a crisis moment for them. Fair or not, it is the moment my life intersects with theirs. I've discovered that I have very little time to get to the heart of the matter. If I can't identify where the source of their pain or anger or guilt lies, then I'm not likely to get very far in the mediation. Even if I can get to the root, it is not always so easy to pull it up...to extract it from the soil that is their life. And perhaps that's not my function. My real role is to help them to see for just a moment why it makes more sense to work through their issues with one another rather than to continue to hide them from the light of day. I was not able to do my job in the mediation, I couldn't get to that moment of transformation. I'm always disappointed when that happens. I hope for the best.
On the heels of my messy mediation, I was by and large an observer in a group this weekend. This group is attempting to be centered on God, the Source, the Light, Jesus. The group is struggling with change, the potential for growth and forward momentum.
My history in this community is both a great story of loving relationships and also one with some disappointments. It didn't take me long to recognize some of the same issues we have everywhere else in life existed in this space, with the people here. The honeymoon ended pretty quickly. Fairly early on in my attending this church, I witnessed some amount of backbiting and mean-spirited comments.
As I listened to the group talk, I was overwhelmed by the amount of hurt that seemed to be just below the surface. It felt eerily similar to a mediation to me. All of the unspoken words, the untapped emotions, the bubbling just below the surface. Clearly these folks have history that I'm unaware of. I feel that way in every mediation I work on. The difference - there are several people within this group I care deeply for. I consider them friends, perhaps even family. I know parts of their stories. So to see their hurt...well it hurt me. I don't know how they got here, but it is evident how it is impacting their current level of functioning with one another. I was so overwhelmed by it at one point, that I escaped to the sanctuary of the church for 10 minutes to think, pray, pause. As I sat there the thought that occurred to me was, "How did we get here?" As a church, as a people, as followers of Jesus.
There is a song by Rich Mullins I've never really fully appreciated that has a line in it that says, "Jesus, write me into your story. Whisper it to me. And let me know...I'm yours." That's all I think we can hope for. As a church...as a people. We hope to be part of the story. Our hurt, our love, our hope. I recognize that hurt is a part of life. And mostly it comes back to knowing we are still loved, still cared for, still valued. And that is what appears to be missing.
Similar to the mediations I work on with dysfunctional families, this group seems to have trust issues. There doesn't seem to be a common story uniting them, at least not all the time. In the case of the church, the common story is Jesus - the man, the intense love, the invitation to participate in his body and his blood. Perhaps thinking that such a group can exist is pie in the sky. Afterall the church hasn't exactly lived up to the highest standards in the last few thousand years.
Still I was left feeling sad. Not because the group wasn't able to overcome their differences, but because I see my own sadness reflected in theirs. The pain I saw in the faces and words left unsaid reminded me of how hard it is for us to let the walls down. Even in the safest of places, we still hold something back. We still can't quite allow our hurt to be brought out in the open. I know that difficulty. There is still so much I cannot say, cannot express for fear of being judged.
At the end of the day, I hope for this group, as I hope for myself. That as I grow into more and more the person I was created to be perhaps I will be able to see my own hurt as a chance. An opportunity to connect more deeply with others. And if I'm really able to live this life, the one I know was given to me to live...then when others are hurting I will not be able to turn a blind eye to their pain. I will have the courage to see their hurt for what it is...and respond by connecting to their story, our story. Jesus, write me into your story. Whisper it to me. And remind us, we are yours.