With your indulgence, I’m going to continue writing about these messy things called relationships. I’ve already written about how I’m pretty good at screwing them up. Yeah, I don’t play well with the other children. Also, there is the fear that leads to shame. I want to play with you….No, I don’t….Yes, I do….No, I don’t, (cue Dr. Doolittle, the animal whisperer).
Today, I’d like to walk awhile with woundedness and broken trust. I think that these two things are not only closely related, but may be at the root of broken relationships.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a low threshold for being unaccepted. Actually, if someone looks at me the wrong way my brain sees that and interprets it as a personal attack. I remember a man that I used to meet with fairly regularly. We’d talk about life and family and relationships. He used to like giving me advice on these things. (Meddle is a better word.) One time he told me that he could tell when he had gotten too close and I was about to close down. He could see it on my face. (Funny how our thoughts, those quiet little neuron firings deep in the recesses of our mind, can sneak out and play with us physically.) He was right, of course. As far as I was concerned the topic was now out of play. A foul had been committed and I was walking off the field.
Many of us use speech to figure out what we think and believe. By that I mean, we process our thoughts out loud. This can be a dangerous practice for those of us who are easily hurt. Several years ago I was reflecting on some matter of religion. I don’t remember what that was exactly. I was speaking with another person, trying to make sense of the topic in my own mind. Soon the other person said, “I get really offended when you talk like that.” Uh, What? That person had just established an ‘unsafe zone.’ This was now a place where I could not be open and share my thoughts or feelings. Here I am, bleeding again.
The results of these interactions were small, but significant, wounds. These were no longer ‘safe places’ for me. Safety is necessary for trust to grow. If we perceive that a person is no longer providing a safe environment, trust cannot exist.
I wrote a couple of days ago that God desires humans to live with others and the Good Creation in community. Maybe, then, God has also built into the system a way to maintain our relationships.
I have been fortunate in the last year and a half to have hooked up with a Spiritual Director. This is a person who is not a counselor, but someone who ‘walks alongside’ me on this journey with God. One of the tools that he has brought with us on the path we share is something developed by Ignatius of Loyola in the mid-sixteenth century. Ignatius developed “Spiritual Exercises” that have been used through the years to assist people to experience a closer relationship with the Divine. A recent lesson has opened a discussion on woundedness. This particular lesson discussed the wounds that Jesus received at the hands of the Roman soldiers who crucified him. Of special interest to me was the observation that Jesus’ wounds were still visible after he returned to the land of the living. The writer of the lesson shared, “Jesus rose with his wounds still in his hands and feet and side. His wounds do not humiliate him but give God a chance to show the divine power. So can yours.” (Italics mine.) Ok, how? Wouldn’t it have been a better show if Jesus had received a ‘glorified’ body that was strong and without mark or blemish? No, I don’t think so. Here’s why. The lesson continued, “Jesus kept his wounds in his risen body as a means of consoling his friends. Whenever one Christian lovingly lets another know his or her woundedness, the Holy Spirit consoles them both.” In experiencing woundedness, God, through Jesus, was enabled to identify with God’s Good Creation in a way that had not been possible before. In a way, Creator shared in our suffering. I believe that, because of this, we, too, are empowered by God to share the suffering of one another. Does that mean all of my hurts and mistrusts are miraculously transformed into some kind of cosmic Neosporin? No. There are still walls that have deep pilings holding them in place. It does, however, allow me to understand that you…the one who hurt me…are also wounded. We share that part of the human condition. Together, maybe…I’m not sure, vulnerability can grow between us and we can begin to build that community of the walking wounded that God shares with us.
What do you think? Is it possible to live together as damaged people, sharing our woundedness?