About a year ago, my family went through an excruciating tragedy. We lost a dear member to an overdose and it wrecked those closest to him. The brutality of such a loss was overwhelming and traumatic, leaving those alive to question, to despair, to feel enraged, and lost and discontent and disillusioned and on the cusp of venturing into self-destructive behaviors. It was ugly, and that is a mild description of the horrors it created. This death was such a destructive force and unbearably agonizing.
Several days later, I spent time with some friends and in response to their question of how I was doing, I decide to share what had happened. I began to process with them how horrific this all was and how I found myself wrestling with this tragedy and the roots of why it happened in the first place. It was troubling for me, knowing that his tragedy was the symptom of something deeper, a foundational relational dysfunction that began early on.
And having these insights, I felt conflicted and overwhelmed as to how this could have all been addressed early on. What do we do when we see and experience the dysfunction of others? Do we ignore it and allow it to go unaddressed? Or do we illuminate the disharmony and discord occurring before our eyes? What is our responsibility to our loved ones? And how do we go about sharing these insights with love and care that they may heal, grow and connect in beautiful, life-giving ways?
Obviously I wrestled with this deeply and found it to be distressing. My friend, offering unsolicited advice proceeded to respond to what I had shared and simply pointed out that the real problem and cure is that they need Jesus and a revelation from him. At that point I had shut down, pushing away my anger towards her and this incredibly dismissive statement. But since then I think about that time and what she shared on and off, my anger returning with same intensity I felt in that moment.
Jesus Came to Expose the Pain, that you May Live… Hopefully
Having been taught that Jesus is the cure throughout my life was not something I entirely embraced or bought into, and now, as I have gone through the involuntary shifts and changes in my faith, I have wrestled with this prescription that many in the Christian community reflexively advise as the antidote, while dismissing the deeply rooted and entrenched problems that exist in this world and in our own personal lives and relationships.
I truly believe that we have missed the purpose and point of Jesus, unfortunately creating and establishing him as the buffer and formula for healing all of life’s problems.
But what is interesting is that Jesus communicated something wildly different, as he began his profound and affecting soliloquy on what it means to live and become human. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount and Beatitudes he pontificated on the process of change and becoming and emanating love to all; this process contingent upon looking within and addressing the shadows that obfuscate the True Self and True Love. With every behavior he addressed, he put the responsibility back on the individual to face their insides and to respond in a way that is authentically human and a reflection of the divine love.
In other words, his mission and purpose was to teach and reflect to people how to actually live connected and to love truly, without any impediments. And in his death, he communicated that there was and never has been separation from the divine. That love has always been around, flowing, moving, igniting and affecting. And in his resurrection, he showed that the life and “deaths” we experience has purpose and significance beyond what we imagine.
He drew people to their own hearts, to face the internal self, for it is when we go into the shadows that we move into the light and love in a way that others are hungering to encounter and experience.
Now this is where it gets scary and messy and troubling, because once you start to face your own self, which is an incredibly exhilarating and terrifying journey of feeling lost, discontent, disillusioned, angry, confused, lonely, alive, and energized, you begin to see life very differently. Your lens changes, your judgment shifts, you see the problems that exist are the result of disconnection and you begin to feel compelled to share these deeper understandings in love to others.
You at once feel incredibly alone and yet connected at the same time. All of life takes on new meaning and the way you engage with others is drastically different from the way the world (including some in religious communities) does. Those who are ostracized by society, abusers, pedophiles, drug users, terrorists, perpetrators of domestic violence, etc. are seen with inherent value and worth and their actions begin to make sense, even if the way they act is harmful, destructive and in desperate and imminent need of confrontation and intervention.
It can feel deeply satisfying and fulfilling and also isolating to live out of this expansion of love. When good, bad, right and wrong no longer work in understanding problems, your perspective expands in ways where you see something deeper, the root of the problem. And when the root of the problem is discovered, you can expose it and address it, which inevitably and immediately begins to take effect. The emotions within a person is now a signal and guide that must be felt, expressed and understood as the process of becoming human.
Jesus was inviting others to join this “way” of becoming human. What he modeled was the path of true and authentic living. However, we have misinterpreted this in thinking we need to convince others to turn to him, instead of continuously modeling the humanity he displayed, which he clearly communicated begins as an inner journey
We Are the Healers
I want to challenge those that believe that we are to lead people to Jesus or say to others that Jesus will save you, when he was calling us to lead, guide and “save” others. For it is through a compassionate and empathic soul, confronting the wrongdoing, addressing the dysfunction, weeping and laughing with others, listening to the cries within and connecting them to the depths of their heart, where the springs of love already exist, that such a person reflects the Divine love that Jesus innately displayed. In other words, we become “Jesus”.
I know that this may be offensive and troubling, but Jesus was connecting us to the “kingdom within” our own souls and that when we go into our own “darkness” we become lightbearers for those who are stuck within and suffocated by their own shadows.
We do not realize, which I want to express, that we are a part of healing and affecting the world. It is the love we carry within that impacts and changes others, the love we have accessed, because we have looked inside. Others are hungry and thirsty to experience this kind of loving and affectionate attunement. Their souls are crying out for this. However, when we jump into praying for someone or convincing someone that they need Jesus, while dismissing their bleeding soul and that intrinsic longing to be seen and heard, we miss the opportunity to express this divine love.
For those that say that someone “needs a revelation from Jesus” is completely missing the fact that we are the revelation. It is the divine love within us that people need desperately and if we are attuned to it in ourselves then we carry the beautiful and profound opportunity to be this revelation of love to others. We carry the healing presence and ability within.
I am so deeply moved by our discoveries today regarding relationships, attachment, sexuality, vulnerability and intimacy, as well as the disorders that result from connectional discord or misalignment. What is clearly revealed is our yearning for connection and the innate drive to bond. And a dimension to that is the need for intimacy, the realm within a relationship where we experience this reciprocating seeing and knowing of the depths of one another.
I believe we are called to both see and know these depths, including the pains, traumas, longings and needs in others, as well as to share our own depths. When we engage in this together, incredible healing takes place. Sometimes we are so busy praying for miracles for others and for ourselves, that we miss that we and others around us are the miracles that we are clamoring for.
Are we willing to confront, to draw out the pain, to encounter the defense, to risk loving even if others are limited in their ability to love back? Are we willing to weep with others, to hear the “dark” dimensions within someone that they are terrified to share and face? And are we willing to share our own pains, discomforts, traumas and wounds as well?
My hope is that we all wake up to this; that it does not only exist within therapy, but can be encountered in every day life, people coming alive as they feel safe, heard and seen. I believe that incredible healing can be activated as we orient towards one another, shifting to a face-to-face engagement.
But it starts when we come out from hiding behind the safety net that Jesus is going to save and heal all problems, for it is us that is called to “save” and “heal” others through the love we manifest within, a love that is imbued with compassion, care, vulnerability, genuineness, tenderness, gentleness, and the boldness to address the destruction that inhibits the flow of love and intimate connection.
It is this kind of love that will ripple continually, and to access this kind of love begins with the bold venture of facing, naming and experiencing our own impediments, pains and discovering our authentic self. Only then will we love purely, honestly, boldly and authentically.