hold the pain

24 Apr

Saved this draft three weeks ago and forgot about it. Nice follow up to stone…from Richard Rohr

Don’t get rid of the pain until you’ve learned its lessons. When you hold the pain consciously and trust fully,
you are in a very special painliminal space. This is a great teaching moment where you have the possibility of breaking through to a deeper level of faith and consciousness. Hold the pain of being human until God transforms you through it. And then you will be an instrument of transformation for others.

As an example of holding the pain, picture Mary standing at the foot of the cross. Standing would not be the normal posture of a Jewish woman who is supposed to wail and lament and show pain externally. She’s holding the pain instead, as also symbolized in Michelangelo’s Pietà. Mary is in complete solidarity with the mystery of life and death. She’s trying to say, “There’s something deeper happening here. How can I absorb it just as Jesus is absorbing it, instead of returning it in kind?” Until you find a way to be a transformer, you will pass the pain onto others.

Jesus on the cross and Mary standing by the cross are images of transformative religion. They are never transmitting the pain to others. All the hostility that had been directed toward them—the hatred, the accusations, the malice—none of it is returned. They hold the suffering until it becomes resurrection! That’s the core mystery. It takes our whole life to comprehend this, and then to become God’s “new creation” (Galatians 6:15). The imperial ego hates such seeming diminishment.

Unfortunately, we have the natural instinct to fix pain, to control it, or even, foolishly, to try to understand it. The ego always insists on understanding. That’s why Jesus praises a certain quality even more than love, and he calls it faith. It is the ability to stand in liminal space, to stand on the threshold, to hold the contraries, until you move to a deeper level where it all eventually makes sense in the great scheme of God and grace.



This is a huge part of this whole perspective of casting a wide net into the world, this filter through which we are always looking for the gift.

Who said gifts are positive?

Some of the greatest gifts are wrapped up in the deepest pain. But we typically try to exorcise pain rather than be exercised by it. It’s a no brainer. Pain and the negative, hurtful and crushing experiences are obviously bad fish to be summarily cast aside, yes?

Ah, but what a gift can be found waiting for us in the gaping mouth of pain…

good grief



Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Faith, Suffering, Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,

2 responses to “hold the pain

  1. ThinkingItOver

    April 25, 2014 at 5:01 am

    Oh sooooo agree Mike! And so I have found beauty in growing old in that the time it takes to grow wise through the pain sometimes takes years to manifest. The I can touch the scars and be reminded where I was, what I was carried through, Who carried me and what I was rescued from.
    And so every place God brought me to is better than the place He took me from (through). If He had not allowed me to suffer, I would not know the “better place”. Eventually I can find joy in pain–eventually. Because, if nothing else, I feel my Abbas arms holding me; I feel His breath; I hear His voice. Feeling and hearing Him like that is worth the struggle. (Easy to say after the fact.) But good to tell the youngins –to encourage hope.

  2. wordhaver

    April 25, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Amen – and well put!


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