Looking at our pain means we can no longer pretend we are in control.
People begin twelve-step programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous, by admitting they have a problem. This is a very hard step to take. It is difficult to be honest about our wounds because, over time, without us ever intending, weíve developed coping mechanisms that help us get by in the moment. They protect us from vulnerability and let us hide our problems from others. We distract ourselves with social media, binge-watching, and busyness. We self-medicate with food, drugs (legal or otherwise), or alcohol. We shop and hoard, hoping we can pack the gaping emptiness of our wounds with stuff.
Stripping all of that away and facing our broken places with honesty can be terrifying. Wonít it give our demons more power to torment us? Without the flimsy protection of our coping strategies, weíll have to admit that weíre powerless against our own pain, that attempting to control everything around us causes more harm than good.
Being honest could mean upending our livesóhome, employment, and in some cases, our families. It could mean rethinking opinions we thought sacrosanct and being open to realities that challenge the safe, black-and-white worldview we grew up with.
Facing our wounds means we can no longer pretend we are in control. We have to fall on Godís grace. That can be hard because donít we sometimes blame God for failing to protect us in the first place? To face our weakness, we must admit our need for helpóboth divine and, in many cases, earthly help from a professional. We must abandon saccharine, distant, and safe piety, and wrestle with God, as Jacob did in Genesis 32.
Oh, God, how I know my weakness. All my choices are calculated to protect me from coming face to face with it. How often I flee from the stillness, fearing what monsters might leap out and crush me! For so long, Iíve tried to avoid facing my pain. I find so many ways to distract myself. (Pause to acknowledge what those ways are in your life.)
I know you want more from me. The wounds I bear are beyond me, Lord. I canít heal them alone, but Iím also used to them. Iím always in pain, but itís pain I can live with. Iím afraid to shift the burden. What if I make things worse? Itís hard enough just to get through each day as it is.
You promise that your grace is enough, that my weakness will be filled up by your power. Do I dare trust you enough to wrestle with you and allow myself to be overcome by your love? Anima Christi! Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Amen.