I have difficulty with these two extremes:
1. wallowing in misery
2. floating in fantasy
That is… we can get stuck in our own suffering and even become attached to it. The world becomes a very dark and nasty place, and we become its helpless victims from which there is no escape. I’ve seen this in myself. I now recognize it. I don’t like it. I don’t want to get stuck in that again.
Or, we can adopt some of the popular ideas that float around that there really isn’t any suffering, that it is all an illusion in our minds, and that if we just think right, that there’s nothing wrong, then we can be eternally and blissfully happy if we can just tap into this secret, positive energy.
I don’t believe either. One is just as bad as the other.
- One is fatalistic
- The other is denial.
They are both an escape from reality and responsibility.
In the first case, there is good and life can be trusted and maybe enjoyed.
In the second case, there is evil and we may make life better.
One of the things I did while I was a pastor in the last church was to see if, when we are given space to move through our pain and suffering, we can successfully move on.
That was my experiment. And it worked. I watched many people process their pain to move on to their gain. They moved on by moving through. Some took days. Some took weeks. Some took months. Some took years. Different inflictions and afflictions. Different intensities of pain. Different pain thresholds. All in their own speed, at their own pace, in their own time. It worked.
I watched lots of people move on from pain through process to peace.
What made it really interesting and even life-giving and fun was that we had a mixture of all three in the community: those in pain, those processing, and those who’d come to a place of peace. And, of course, no one stays in any one place all the time. Not if they’re growing. And also, of course, we can learn to work through these stages quicker. We learn from ourselves and others. That’s what made it so rich.
This is what I’ve modeled The Lasting Supper after.
You’d think everybody would’ve love this. But no, most didn’t.
Let me clarify: those who were trying to process their pain appreciated the space. Those looking on criticized it.
- Most people, I’ve discovered, don’t like being with people in pain.
- Most people, I’ve discovered, are afraid of sitting with people who are processing confusion and pain.
- Most people, I’ve discovered, are annoyed or intimidated by those who’ve arrived at a place of peace.
I guess not only misery loves company.
So I just want to encourage us all to embrace our journeys.
Embrace the pain.
Embrace the process.
Embrace the peace when it presents itself to you.
That’s what we’re here for.