It is true for all of us, every day of our lives, but this last year I have been faced each day, each moment, with a very clear choice: grow or die.
The option to just take the despairing route almost always feels easier (and certainly justified) in the moment, just as reaching towards healing usually feels impossible. It’s like facing the choice of climbing stairs or going down a slide. The slide is easier and feels better at the moment. Every moment on the slide makes it harder to stop or go back up. And the stairs are work. But… the stairs are the only way to the place I actually want to go.
One of the things I have had to do, in order to heal, is close myself off from so much other pain – the pain of my friends, the pain of people I meet, and the pain of different injustices in the world. I don’t have the emotional resources to empathize.
I was considering this more carefully as I was thinking briefly about the border situation in the US: parents trying to move towards a better life, and having their children taken away from them. I had to stop myself, before I even got to the question, “What is really going on here?” Because I can’t take it right now, the extra pain of considering that will undo me.
But I do NOT want to be a person who refuses to empathize, who will not look at the world around her for fear of seeing the pain. I don’t want to be someone who denies reality because I prefer to believe a comfortable fiction.
I love the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (literally, “repair of the world”, alternatively, “construction for eternity” according to Wikipedia). That work is something I want to be a part of. Somewhere in my soul is a deep conviction that I am here to make change in the world; to make this world a better place. I know this. (I believe this about you, too, by the way.) Over the course of this last year I have received so many encouragements and affirmations in this area. Some have been intentional, and some have just been offhand comments, but I have grabbed them and held on to them with all of my might, so that I am feeding the hope that climbing these stairs will be worth it. I have a small glimpse of how broken the world is – and a small glimpse of how glorious it could be. I want to work with individuals to help them become more whole in every area of their lives. I want to face systems of injustice and come up with new, creative ways of living. Each encounter with brokenness makes me all the more determined to be whole – to chase and pursue healing with all that I have – so that I can do the most I possibly can to share that healing with the world.