“Who dares to suggest this pain could be felt for the last time? What an audacious assertion. Maybe your pain. Not my pain. Not with what I have been through.”
It’s a radical idea, bidding adieu to pains that have followed us through life. Many of us learn empirically that ignoring them doesn’t really make them go away. Some of us have grown accustomed to our pains, and perhaps, have let them seep into our identity, making them difficult to release. How many of us have honestly tried confronting our pain, though? Looking deep into our pains—staring down our demons—mines hope for healing.
To be successful, we must be thorough. There are no shortcuts. There is no advantage to wallowing, either. If it’s a feeling you have been repressing, allow yourself to experience the feeling. Is it as bad as you feared? Is it worse? Stay with the feeling and find out. Conversely, maybe the feeling is extremely familiar, a feeling that you have slid into repeatedly through life without ever realizing its origin. What kinds of situations lead you to this same old chestnut? What connects these situations? Is there an underlying belief that gives way to this feeling? When examined intellectually, does the magnitude of pain you have experienced measure to the magnitude of its origin? Allow yourself to be fully present with the pain until you feel a small emptiness where the pain was. Pain will do this. It will empty you.
Although arduous, there is something very important to remember when journeying through painful remembrances. If you are open to change, you can feel this particular
pain for the last time. You can be healed.
Search yourself. Is there more pain you want to feel for the last time? Turn over every rock and search it out. If pain is lying under there, give it as much feeling as it is due. Be reflective about how this pain has affected you and if you have given it more than its due. Know that when you are healed, you will reflect on this matter as a fact, devoid of raw emotion. The reason you are feeling it for the last time is that you are leaving this place, propelled to a new place and a new way of being.
Dutch priest and revered writer on the spiritual life Henri Nouwen offers, “When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope. “ When we are able to recognize our expressions of despair in this broken place as a sign of hope that a healed destination awaits us, we have fuel for the journey.
Join the conversation. Do you believe a pain long buried can be healed for all time?
Copyright 2011 Stephanie Walker All rights reserved. Visit www.AcrossTraditions.com.