This post belongs to a series called the Chai Conversations, a challenge to post every day (or almost every day!) in October. You can start here.
Smallness chafes. It does that often. I find the abrasive surface papers the walls of this heart I call home. Minutiae. The inconsequential. The unimportant. They are pebbles, gravel in my shoes. When I was sick chronically my sickness filled my perspective. Healing and mercy were the language of my prayers. Healing and mercy for me. This did not move me to a transcendent compassion for others who suffered infinitely more. I curled in around my hurt, prayed for it to end.
When we moved overseas and I unpacked a bag full of questions and found no answers, when I left everything to follow and couldn’t find the one who led me there, my small self curled up tighter. It didn’t make me bloom with compassion for my neighbours who didn’t know what questions to speak, who to seek. No, my pain made me smaller, harder; I focused everything inward.
Pain does that. We burn our finger and what do we do? We grasp the injured finger with our other hand and pull it into our chest. We hunch over as if everything in us pulls our hurt to the centre of ourselves. It is contrary to our nature and against our instincts to accept hurt arms spread wide, stretched out, to be forgiving and giving in the very same moment.
And yet, my desire today and every day is that I will not be small and consumed by the immediate, whatever that happens to be on any given day. My desire is that any disappointment, any pain be a corrective lens for my myopia enabling me to look great distances and take the blur off the edges of the lives of others. I want hurt to sharpen my acuity, to focus my ability to care.
May our hurts grant us the ability to say, “I’ve been hurt, albeit it just a little, but it is enough to imagine that you must feel overwhelmed. How can I help?” May our hurt teach us the language of mercy and our pain grant us a vision of compassion.
I was listening to a song this morning that a friend recommended by Misty Edwards. She says,
This is how I know what love is…
Arms wide open, heart exposed,
arms wide open, sometimes bleeding…
And in Christ we find the ultimate example of how to look beyond our hurt, how to expose our hearts and love others. In our pain, may we find him and may we reflect him.