FALLING in love is one of the best feelings; excitement, nervousness, anticipation, a flurry of joy, together with the obvious sexual passion and spiritual intimacy afforded.
Being in the chasm of pain is not that dissimilar, for the emotions are just as palpable, and the awareness is piqued, but it truly isn’t like this until we are suitably positioned aside another person’s pain.
When we are part of their working alliance, there is a cherished sanctity in the chasm of their pain – to be in it with them. God uses us, because, quite frankly, we want to be there. We are not there, though, for our own means or ends – for the stroking of an ego that just loves to be needed. No, we take this role or leave it and we are happy either way. We do not need this ministry, but we are so willing, and so privileged (in more ways than one), to be used.
A Snapshot of Pain, of Empathy, of Stepping ‘Into’ Them
We would never want to be trite, and so, respectfully, we enter this ground of another person’s pain not so much with trepidation, but with true empathy – we are living as if we are them. We are trying to sense them and be fully available – in a genuinely sacrificial way.
We know when we are getting it right – they open up totally.
Pain is something that must be expressed. I liken it to Jesus’ response to the Pharisees who were criticising the crowd who were worshipping him during the Triumphal Entry narrative: if these mouths were to be stopped, the stones, themselves, would cry out (Luke 19:40).
We must allow those in pain to find a means of expression that best suits their needs. Privileged are we to be invited to join that journey of God-blessed discovery.
And when we are allowed into them – into the sanctity of their private selves – there we respectfully tiptoe, but without fear for upsetting them. If we are motivated to love them, and we have correctly gauged their emotional capacity as it fluctuates, then we have good basis for journeying into their unknown with them. We trust God as they will, also, need to trust God.
We master fear when we see the cherished sanctity in the chasm of pain. Despair needs not to be judged. An emotional vacuum is what it is. And sorrowful grief is the natural consequence of loss. All this is holy ground. It’s a privilege to step into it.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.