Whether you realize it or not, every single day you rub shoulders with people in great pain.
They are among the growing multitude of walking wounded in your midst, many presently laboring as they try to take that most excruciating of steps: the next one.
Most of them don’t wear their damage so that it can be easily seen, though. To be vulnerable like that is to risk further injury, and so they gradually learn to conceal and cover the tender, throbbing, torn-up parts of themselves from others. Though they surely suffer in the solitude and silence, at least there they find some illusion of control, some measure of safety.
And if you aren’t really looking closely at people as they cross your path, you might likely mistake them for the confident, together, secure, unaffected successes that they so desperately want to be seen as. You might well be fooled by their carefully crafted veneers of success and self-reliance, and you might withhold from them compassion or compliment or kindness, feeling as though they need none of those things. Rest assured, they do.
I imagine that you too are a member of this great congregation of the broken and bruised, this Church of The Hurting. I imagine that you too have well-buried weakness and failure that serve as your daily burden; a constant, heavy reminder of all that you have not become or done or found. You too might be fully consumed with the dual tasks of shielding the contents of your shattered heart, all the while pretending you are indestructible. The good and the bad news here is: you’ve been found out. You can take off the cape and the costume and join the rest of us mortals down here on the ground.
Not knowing the specific road you’ve traveled, I can’t speak any precise words of wisdom or say anything to alleviate the very specific pain you are carrying. I can only bid you welcome.
I can only assure you that you are in very good company, that you are among broken brethren as you live and breathe and move through your day. We are all kinfolk in our damaged-ness.
But please know that you are not broken in that you are defective and in need of fixing, but simply that you are fractured and in need of mending. We all have those cracked fault lines; places that need to be filled in and sured up and protected. None of us are whole and yet none of us are beyond repair.
In light of this, may you practice relentless benevolence out there. May you continually seek a softer way of speaking to people, a gentler way of handling them, because you know they are as brittle and fragile and prone to breaking as you are. Remember that you don’t have a monopoly on suffering, so take time to look deeply into people and see their damage—and go easy on them.
But allow yourself this same sweet courtesy, too. Realize that you also deserve this same gentleness, this same space to fail. Treat your own heart and your own flaws as delicate things. Go easy on yourself.
In the middle of the speed and the noise of this life; in the dizzying parade that we defiantly strut through every day trying to fool people into believing that we’re all okay, it can be a challenge to remember that we’re all not okay. I hope that you will, though, because it will change the way you walk the rest of the journey.
I hope you’ll find your place in this great congregation of flawed, wounded souls and that you’ll feel right at home here, because you are.
Church of The Hurting, be encouraged.