I am reflecting on a problem that has occurred in the midst of a group of complex relationships within which I am called to be involved. Reflecting that I am a part of the problem as well as the one looked to to “fix things”, and reluctant to dive in and do just that because right now an attempt at fixing would merely be covering over the cracks, and getting on with things. The problem with that approach is that cracks have a nasty habit of reappearing and getting worse.
I know this, I know it from my own life and I have seen this in action in the lives of others, the trouble is that we live in a society that demands a certain image, or so we are told. That image is portrayed for us on our TV screens, and in glossy magazines, pop up adverts on Facebook and other forms of social media, where our dis-ease with ourselves and our angst is fed and channeled to look for solutions before somewhere someone notices that we are broken.
Many years ago when my son Chris was about 2 1/2, he was in the Intensive Care Unit at The Royal Brompton Hospital in London, he was recovering very slowly from open heart surgery, he was born with a complex condition and this was merely one of the steps along the way towards making his life possible, at 32 he is still living with the condition and preparing for the next step! At this point however, Chris was unconscious due to a medically induced coma, the consultants had splinted his rib cage open to allow his heart room to recover, the swelling needed to go down before his chest could be closed. It was part of the healing process. That part of the process took several weeks, for me as his mum it felt like an eternity!
As a Christian a part of my belief is that somehow through the sacrifice of Jesus, all of my pain at that moment and in this moment was absorbed into the outstretched arms of the man on the cross, who held and holds it all for us. In those awful hours of pain and suffering he shows us the way to hold pain, suffering and sin ( all that separates us from divine love) until it can be transformed. Following his pattern I am called to hold the grief and pain and problems in my life until the time for resurrection is right, Jesus the scapegoat became Jesus the Saviour, simply because he refused to deny who he was, and if we dare to look on the one we have pierced we will find who we truly are revealed. Known, loved, precious and honoured.
In Christ I find myself to be beloved, I have always been beloved, but there have been many, many times when I have been unable to receive that, that inability to receive at times because of my own pain and also because of my blindness have meant that I projected that pain onto others, causing rifts and cracks in my soul and probably ion theirs. All this in an effort to look right and to be right before the God whose very pattern shows me that through Christ the way forward is not to deny pain, sin and anguish but to hold it in love until it is ready for resurrection. The trouble with that is that resurrection requires a death, and that can be the most tricky bit, it requires that I hold the pain, suffering and anguish until the time is right to let it go, letting go brings about a true transformation, because it requires a dying to my egocentric ways. This is the path of discipleship, the one I sense that I am called to through all of my relationships, even my relationship with myself, which might be the most complex of all!
Through the natural world around us in in all of our lives this cycle of death and resurrection is normal and right, to cover it up or deny it often leads to more pain, brokenness and sin, and certainly produces shallow, brittle and bitter people. Holding the tension requires grace, and places us into the normal and natural flow of love.
So today, as most days I live with tensions, and I can only hold them until the time is right, and when my mind and ego lead me to blaming and scapegoating others I pray that in Christ I will find the grace and strength to let that go so that:
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.(Ephesians 3: 14-21)