Doing our own work
On my run this morning, my favorite way to process things, I couldn’t get Richard Rohr’s words out of my head. “Pain that is not transformed will be transmitted.” At the writer’s retreat I was attending, Paula D’Arcy had shared countless quotes with us, but that is the one that stuck. I wish I could say that my own pain was my first thought, but I couldn’t help but think of all the others in my life who’s pain and mistakes I wished I could fix. Paula had addressed that straight out of the gate. One of the first questions she was asked as we sat at our tables, trying to find voice for our words, was “How can we help others in our life do the necessary work to be free?” “You can’t” she said. “You can only do your own work.” There were no fancy words, just a reminder that it doesn’t happen that way. Yet, as the first words hit my page in our writing exercises were again how I wished I could help everyone else but myself.
Annie Dillard said, “If something inside you is real, it is probably universal.” I really want to reveal the real in me and trust that it will identify with the true in you. So, any honest words that I am able to share, may connect my story to yours. That is my hope. As I continue on this journey to allow Christ to bring me to wholeness, I really want be honest with those around me. So, this is what I am learning. I am learning that the light of God lives in me. No one can touch this. No sin I struggle with, no mistake I’ve made, no suffering that I have endured. But, it takes effort to be free. The work is the willingness to allow light in our dark places.
This isn’t easy for me. Keeping my ugly places dark feels safe, but it also has kept me from freedom. Slowly, ever so slowly, that is changing. It has started in places I never expected. Silence, prayer, scriptures, raw conversations with people I trust, and seeing the same things in a different light. It’s risky, but so worth it. It’s a new way of seeing, a new way of loving and a freedom I never knew was available to me. A freedom offered by God right here, right now.
-Lisa Averill Mullen