We must speak our pain

One of the hardest things anyone could ever do is share the deepest struggle in our lives. Maybe it is the baggage you carry from childhood or something that happened to us. It could be lies that we believe about ourselves or insecurities over our inadequacies.

We all have a story of pain. Why? Because we are all human. We are all alive. To live is to experience pain. Though at times, I wish it wasn’t, it is.

I believe that the story of pain in our lives must be told. We must speak our pain. If not, we allow the pain to hold us captive. I love what Zora Neale Hurston says,

“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.”

When we embrace the pain and speak of it in healthy ways, it holds us accountable. Our pain becomes like a wet cloth on a dirty window. As we move the cloth across the surface, the pain attaches to the cloth, slowly revealing the clear glass underneath. As our story escapes our lips, it begins to reveal our actual state. Are we broken, embittered, jaded, cynical, angry, apathetic? As Rob Bell writes,

“Pain has a way of making us more honest.”

He continues,

“The ache reminds us that things aren’t how they’re supposed to be. The ache cuts through all the static, all of the ways we avoid having to actually feel things. The ache reassures us that we’re not the only ones who feel this way.”

Here’s the thing…

We often do feel like we are doing it alone. I believe we all know that in the words of REM, everybody hurts, sometimes. The thing is that though we know, we don’t always believe it. The silence of pain has a way of tricking us into thinking we are alone. As we begin to speak our pain, others hear, and it helps them realize they aren’t alone. There is no need to suffer in silence. Bottling up and hiding away the pain that eats your heart and soul isn’t doing you or anyone else any good. It is not until we begin to speak what has happened or is happening that change can occur.

Society, families, cultures, organizations, governments, circles are all made of broken people acting in broken ways. If the wrong is never voiced, things continue as they once were. If your pain is never told, no one can help you put together the broken pieces. If it is never voiced, someone can’t confirm that what happened to you is wrong or speak words of truth into your life. If you don’t speak your pain, that status quo is allowed to continue.

Richard Rohr writes, “Pain that isn’t processed is passed on.” And that’s the kicker.

When we don’t speak our pain, we give it a life to continue and it continues through our life.

The passing on of pain is what we see in the life of Jacob found in the book of Genesis. The man has some serious baggage in his life through choices his parents have made, and the lies he has chosen to believe. Jacob has a choice to live out his pain or speak it. Jacob lives it out, and it affects his whole family.

Dysfunction doesn’t even begin to explain Jacob’s family. The pain is passed on and never spoken. After all, as Rohr also states, “Pain that isn’t transformed is transmitted.” The silent killer of pain that hides in your heart is there. More than likely, it’s there because someone else is transmitting theirs.

Now you have the choice.

The ball is in your court.

You now have the control.

Do you transmit the pain? Or speak the pain.

Speak, we must. Speak it to friends, family, perpetrators, spouses, children, parents, victims.

If we never speak the pain, we can never learn. If we never learn, we will never grow. If we never grow, we will continue to do what we have always done, not maturing into the people we are created to be.

Most importantly, we must speak our pain to God. The shortest verse in the Scriptures says, “Jesus wept.” Jesus didn’t weep because someone called Him a name or because He stepped on a piece of lego.

Jesus wept because He felt the pain of His friends.

And so He does with yours. God sees you. He hears you. You’re not alone in the fight. God is here, and so are others, but for us to bear the weight with you…

We must speak our pain.

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Tears for my people

Wednesday morning I read the news that Jarrid Wilson, Pastor and advocate, took his own life. He is one in a recent string of Pastor’s being overwhelmed and ending it all.

As I read I wept.

I wept for his church and friends. I wept for his parents, wife, and kids.

But mostly I wept for all the other Pastors out there that feel like Jarrid.

Jeremiah 9 reads

“I wish my head were a well of water
and my eyes fountain of tears
So I could weep day and night
for casualties among my dear, dear people.”

Pastors are my people. As Pastor Greg Laurie, Senior Pastor of Jarrid’s church soberly points out,

“At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day,”

I weep for them because I know what it is like. In fact, I have never spoken about it publically or privately, with the exception of my wife. For nearly two years, with increasing regularity, waves of seemingly insurmountable hopelessness overwhelm me. It takes everything within not to stay there. There are moments I fear I will.

More and more I’m finding my peers, whether only in waves or as a life long struggle, feel much the same.

We suffer in silence.

After all, it’s a nice sentiment that we should be able to be open. What if we were though? Would others still allow us to carry their burdens with them, as pastors do, or would they decide not to contribute to the weight and bear it on their own?

Would it compromise the receptivity to our message that Jesus has come to bring us the fullness of life, hope, and love that surpasses all the anguish?

How does someone like me, an author of a book all about finding our identity in Christ, admit this type of feeling without the vital message I believe God has given me losing credibility?

However, we must.

We must talk about it. Despite the consequences (which I believe should only be good) we must talk about it.

We can pontificate the reasons why this feeling is so prevalent, and while important, in the long term we must yield to something greater. Pastors and all people of faith need to band together and hold each other up.

Just because we know hopes name, it does mean it’s always on our lips. There are times when the worries of life push it away.

Health, family, the past, our vices, work. I’ve been there, and I know how easy it is to let it push hope aside.

This is exactly why we must stick together. We must hold each other up. It is imperative that we speak our pain and help each other carry it. We must know we are not alone and that we are not wrong.

This world does leave us wanting, hollow, and barren. It is only Christ who gives life, hope, and liberty, but that doesn’t mean we will not be overcome. After all, many of the Bibles most prominent characters felt this way.

Moses, David, and Jonah are three of the many who asked God to take their life. Not to mention Samson who did take his life. Yet every single is listed in Hebrews 11 in what we call the Hall of faith. They are men of which it is said, “…whose weakness was turned to strength…” (Heb 11:34).

As we stand together helping each other stand with God, we can have faith that our weakness will be turned to strength. How? When? That’s the mystery, but that doesn’t negate the truth. What it means is that we must stand with each other because if the Scriptures tell us anything, it is that those who struggle are not abandoned by God, but are primed for God to use.

Brothers and sisters who are fighting for the kingdom of love–the kingdom of God–who are also fighting for their lives, you are not alone.

When we weep, let us weep together.