A good friend of mine (who takes amazing pictures – you’ll often see them on here…) is in social work and lost a client this weekend. After reading her post, I began to dwell on pain. No sooner did I begin to ponder the scope and purpose when I realized I was trying to view an entire mountain with my nose pressed to the rock. The questions are overwhelming. My heart threatened to burst in comprehending the intensity of a pain so deep that it would push a woman over the edge into a fatal and frigid body of water, and then just as my eyes begin to open to the reality, my heart became colder than the water that consumed this woman.
Why have I become so dulled to pain? In fear of feeling too much, my mind shuts every door that leads to anguish. I feel empathy… I feel pain… but only to a certain point. “It’s not real.” Of course it’s real, but that mantra, that phrase that you repeat to yourself subconsciously when you’re watching a tragic drama or a tearful scene in a TV show, does it penetrate the line between fiction and reality? That switch you flip to keep yourself from crying in the back of the movie theater, does it flip itself when you’re listening to something real? Do you find yourself switching off emotion when it gets to be too much, even when what you’re witnessing is no longer fiction?
When I’m reading scripture, and I’m dwelling on the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and when I’m trying to allow the weight of that sacrifice to soften my pride and break my heart, I find myself visualizing the story on a mental screen. As it flickers in front of my mind’s eye (likely scenes from The Passion), it happens. I’m on the verge of breaking down, feeling something, and the switch flips again. I coldly watch, the image fades, and I’m back in my bedroom with a bible in my lap, and I cannot. Even. Cry. I’m cold.
This woman felt pain at a level so deep, that she was able to overcome what keeps the rest of us above water: that powerful fear and will to live that forces us to swim up and take a breath. I cannot feel a fraction of that pain. I do not want to feel the kind of pain that leads to death. But I do want to feel the kind of pain that leads to repentance. I want to feel anguish because anguish leads to that tight relationship with the Lord that I so desire. You can’t experience true passion without anguish.
We watched a sermon on anguish in Sunday school a while back and it has really stuck with me.
I am asking the Lord to remove the frigid exterior from my heart and open it up to the pain that I know will save me from worldliness and apathy. I’m tearful for the thought of being so self centered that I cannot truly empathize. If I cannot feel the pain of the cross, I will never truly bind myself to the message of the cross. If I cannot feel the pain of the lost, I will never evangelize the way I was called. If I cannot feel the pain of the weary and burdened, how will I serve with a pure heart? How will I live out what Jesus called me to do? My motives will be sinful and impure until I can truly feel the anguish that leads us all to action.