Richard Rohr All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. If your religion is not showing you how to transform your pain, it is junk religion.
“He’s in jail,” a young adult writes in a message on Facebook. “Since he turned eighteen he thinks that drinking is the way to prove he is a man. What a stupid rite of passage.”
He thinks a bit. “For women, they think having a baby makes them a woman. It’s so messed up.”
“What do you think makes a man or a woman?” I ask.
“Facing your pain,” he replies.
“It helps to have a friend to talk with,” he says. “First, I have to talk to myself and say ‘You can do this.’ It takes a long time to get up the courage. I remember when a friend came over and told me I looked like s***t. We just sat down on the ice cooler and bucket outside and said nothing. Finally I could say ‘it hurts so much.” He didn’t say anything and I started stuttering and trying to get words out. Finally he says, ‘Just say it straight. I’ve been there.’ So I told him the mess I’m in and how bad I am. As I talked I could feel the knot inside my stomach melt away. We just sat there in silence.
Finally, the friend says, “Remember when we were being trained for our baptism and we talked about taking the bread and wine for the first time? We were told that the bread is broken and we can take the broken part inside us and eat it. We don’t have to pretend that everything is okay. We make it a part of us. That’s the ceremony we do every Sunday. That’s what you are doing now.”
He concludes “I remember the relief I felt when I didn’t have to posture about being tough. I make it a part of me and give it up to God. That’s how I face pain.”
He stops writing and over the internet, we both experience those times when we were able to do this.
This is a courageous Holy Practice with simple steps:
I can do this
Spell it out without pretense
Take it into yourself and make it a part of you
Give it up to God
Go on to the next step.
It helps to have a friend. It helps to rehearse this when we receive communion each week. It helps to know that this is possible. It helps to not have the bitterness inside us when we keep it bottled up.