If you are like me, pain is not something you go looking for. I can honestly say that I actively avoid pain if possible. The other day someone asked me if I had a tattoo; my response came quickly – “I have no moral concerns about tattoos but I cannot imagine willingly submitting myself to the pain involved in getting one.”
I find it interesting and somewhat disturbing that the pain, failures, and shortcomings in my personal life tend to be the primary sources for empathy and meaningful connection(s) with other people. Wounds have a way of breaking down barriers; they humanize each of us.
In many ways the logic is obvious. Parents who have suffered through the tragic death of a child have a better sense of how to be present and available when someone else faces the same circumstance. Pastors who have been through a contentious divorce are less judgmental of other leaders going through the same experience. Alcoholics Anonymous has always assumed that the addicted are better, more effective healers of the addicted than are non-addicted experts and authorities, including pastors.
This is not a blog about going out and looking for pain, nor is it a permission to engage in destructive behavior for the purposes of becoming a better, more effective healer. What I am suggesting is that churches and places of ministry create spaces for people who have suffered tragedy, lived a life of addiction, or even broken the law. Too often woundedness, pain, and sin are viewed as things which eliminated people from ministry. It is exactly these experiences that become proving grounds for pastoral care. It was Henri Nouwen who said, “In our own woundedness, we can become a source of life for others.” Richard Rohr also talks about this- that the point of our deepest pain/wound is also the place of our greatest gift.
This is a blog about redemption. Rather than run from the woundedness in your own life, redeem it, use it as a source of healing and comfort.