Something has bothered me a lot recently. Think about the hardest things in your life — the things that cause you the most pain, wound you the deepest, and you cannot fix on your own — and think about how little you feel you can talk about them.
- Maybe your thing involves a beloved person who wounded you, so you cannot share for fear of turning others against you.
- Maybe your thing involves a powerful person who failed you but still retains power and influence over you, so you cannot share for fear of them turning further against you.
- Maybe your thing involves something difficult to sit with and feels like you cannot burden anyone else with it, so you cannot share for fear of others abandoning you.
- Maybe your thing involves your past failures and needing help but the people who can help you refuse and/or decide shaming you will help you, so you cannot share for fear of a greater burden of shame than you already feel.
Maybe your story involves all of them, or some other reason you society/church/family has conditioned you not to talk about, so you just cannot share.
It bothers me that, when we need the most help and we suffer the most, we cannot ask for help. The hardest problems of this world should not leave us abandoned like Christ at his end. We should not have to filter, modify, or remain silent in our pain to not embarrass someone else or cause them discomfort. We should not have to feel shame for past failures when we try to restore and improve. We should not have to suffer medical diagnoses and mental health problems alone because no one else has the strength to sit with us (or at least we have received that message).
I cannot speak to your family systems nor have the wisdom to speak about how the wider society should change, but I can say the church should not enable, enforce, nor encourage hiding our wounds and pains for the comfort of others. If anything, the church should encourage opening up, enable honest disclosure, and enforce safety to find healing for our wounds — especially those wounds caused by and in the church.
Before you ask, yeah, I hold on to some of this, and not just from the past/long enough ago that I should just “get over it.” If Christ heals like a physician, and if followers of Christ are the Body of Christ on Earth, we cannot receive healing from the great physician if we cannot share our wounds in the doctor’s office; trust me when I say I know this for certain.
We need to create church where all of our wounds have space to heal, not just the easy wound and not just the wounds of those who already have the most comfort.
P.S.: I cannot create that space specifically for you if you do not live in my sphere of influence, but I would like to create that space for myself and other clergy who lack it. If you are a clergy person who does not have space to name your wounds and seek healing in community (or know that clergy person), please reach out. I do not know what that space looks like, but I know I need that space and cannot imagine I am all alone.
I mean, I can imagine and most of the time believe that, but logically it makes no sense.