When we decide to journey with someone in their suffering, it doesn't always mean that we open our own journey with those we are with. Sharing our journey, especially when we share about our own pain, is seldom helpful for someone who is in pain.
Years ago I read Henri Nouwen's book, "The Wounded Healer," for the first time, and it helped me to realize that a wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds in order to relate understanding.
Each time we sit with someone who has suffered pain, we are like a candle burning in the night. The candle does not take the darkness away, but it guides through the darkness. When we look back, we then can see the journey that we have made.
We have all lived through or experienced some form of personal pain. None of us are immune. Empathy for someone experiencing cancer is often best if the person journeying with is a survivor. The same for persons who may be suffering from depression, going through a divorce, or simply waiting to hear the results from a test. It doesn't mean that we must share our own personal journey. It means that we can listen, and be present without the need for our own story to be heard.
At some point, we must trust that our own woundedness, or our own journey, will allow us to hear those we journey with, with our whole self.
That's when our own pain can and does offer healing to those we journey with.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.