Recently one of my good friends and I hurt one another. It has been a hard two weeks, filled with frustration, both with him and with myself. Last night I found myself dealing with the pain by trying to fill that empty space with a combination sexual attention, vodka sodas and the false promotion of how completely brilliant I am. Needless to say, it didn’t work so well.
I woke up this morning still feeling pretty empty so I decided to spend some extra time in my chair. It was a beautiful time, I feel much better now so I wanted to share the prayers and reflections that came to me in the hopes that they may resonate with some of your experiences with pain.
Help me be in this place
Help me to choose a way of life that loves me through this loss rather than becomes angry at me for failing. Help me to be compassionate to myself.
Help me trust that you are here, even in this most empty place. Help me to find you in love and beauty: the sun, the rain, the smiles of my friends and the faces of strangers. Help me to have the strength to look for you rather than the absence of you.
Help me to chose to fully feel this pain, not to judge it or rush through it, just to let it be. Help me to trust that it will pass, it won’t consume me, rather it will grow me. Help me to trust rather than judge.
And please, help me to trust him, to believe that the didn’t mean to so badly hurt me, help me to remain open to him yet wise. Help me to find the grace to see him as human, flawed and fragile, just like me.
Help me to have the courage not to remove myself from him, or more importantly, not to remove myself from me. Help me to stay fully present, knowing that you have given me all I need.
Help me to be in this place.
After writing this I spent time with one of my favorite stories about Christ, when the disciples recount his departure. One of the last things they remember him saying is, ‘I’ve told you these things so that you can find peace in me, in this world you will have challenges but keep the faith, I am bigger than those challenges.’
This promise allows me to trust, trust the moment, trust the experience, trust the actions of my friend. I want to be clear about this, I am not suggesting we validates the actions of someone who hurts us. We are responsible for responding to the situation in a way that asks people to treat us well and changing harmful patterns.
However, those actions of change can often result in feeling pain and I’m suggesting that we have an option of not running from our pain but recognizing that God is working even in that space. That willingness to stay and to trust what is bigger than us allows us to grow and to know God in a deeper way.
That willingness is not always easy but the alternative is to try and separate, separate from the experience, separate from my friend, separate from my feelings and separate from God.You may notice this doesn’t work too well, I that that is because separation is a false perception that gives us comfort. Whether we like it or not we are undeniably connected to one another and so living attempting to separate actually brings much more pain even though it feels safe.
Today this is a rather inconvenient belief of mine because it means I need to choose to stay connected to my friend, even though most of me would rather see him pack his bags and move to Antarctica. Thankfully, I do not have to choose to stay connected alone. I have the example of many others who have come before me and who are walking alongside me and I have the presence of God ever beckoning us to love, even in the empty places.
May we know the joy of being connected to God, connected to ourselves and connected to one another. Sawa tu.