The Pathway of Pain: thoughts on being healed

I am hesitant to write this blog, because I don’t want to throw one more Christian cliché into an unending swirl of pain-related platitudes.  I do not mean to say that I believe the statements we say about pain to each other aren’t true, I just believe that dealing with real tragedy when it occurs will take the proper amount of soul searching, grief, wrestling and work.  Antidotal quotes and statements, like “be bitter or be better,” can spur on our dealing with painful moments; but knowing a few quotes will not do the work that tragedy demands we do.

All rabbit trails aside, I was deeply struck by a Richard Rohr quote I read recently in his book Things Hidden, in which he stated, “If we don’t transform our pain we will transmit it.”  I would add to his quote that nothing is as tragic as pain passed on, and nothing is as beautiful as pain that has been healed and transformed.  Rohr’s statement can be applied to entire nations, governments, and religions, although I think he meant it on a more myopic, personal level.  We have all met someone who acts and reacts out of a deep wound that was given to them before we entered their life.  Trying to have a relationship with them, whether in dating, marriage, friendship, or work, when they are bent on (consciously or subconsciously) transmitting unhealed pain can be toxic to our own soul.  These individuals, and I have been one; blaze a relational warpath where they are convinced everyone else is the problem while they ignore the common denominator of self.

Rosanna has taught me a great deal on this subject.  She lost her father when she was 19, and I believe much of the reason I fell in love with her was because she came through her deep tragedy transformed.  In the same way you can recognize those who have applied band -aids to the gun shot wounds of pain, the deeply healed, truly rich individuals among us always surface.  The transformed person has been softened. This is no doubt a result of what happened when their picture of a perfect world shattered.  They understand what really matters in life, and spend less time getting angry over issues that deeply trouble the rest of us.  They have seen life for what it really is, and yet they are still fully engaged with it.  When you encounter a deeply rich and refined person like this, pursue them, get to know them, listen to them, learn from them, and marry them if it is appropriate.

There is a fine line between transformation and transmission, but what hangs in the balance is almost incomprehensible.  If you find yourself driven to this particular fork in the road, I urge you to listen closely. It isn’t me that I’m asking you to listen to, listen to your children and your unborn children.  Listen to your spouse or the spouse you don’t have yet.  They all join in a chorus asking you to choose the path of transformation that as Robert Frost says, “is the road less traveled.”


***I understand that a 500-word blog doesn’t have the ability to take into consideration the weightiness of this topic, and there are far more gray areas to it than a black and white, transformed vs. transmitted perspective.  I do try to keep these short and sweet, saving more in depth analysis of such subjects for XP3 curriculum, books, messages, etc.  Thanks for reading, hope it is helpful.