I met a friend recently. We had met for the first time 5 years ago when we shared a room at a ministry consultation in Hong Kong. I was experiencing deep pain in my life then. I shared some of that pain with him. He listened with kindness and compassion. He prayed for me. I had not met him since. Till three days ago.
Through the kind initiative of some friends, we all met for dinner. Since that first and only meeting, our lives had gone through very deep waters. We both had left the ministries that had brought us together in Hong Kong. I had undergone major personal failures. He had survived cancer. (The doctor had subsequently told him that only about 10% had survived his type of cancer.)
Since my first wife had died of cancer, I was familiar with the territory. Even though we had not seen each other for five years, we connected straight away. It seemed that we had gone through the same crash course in the language of pain. We had traversed similar terrain. Few words were needed to communicate with him and with his wife. We were all members of the same club – the company of the walking wounded.
I observed, yet again, how pain draws people together. When we parade our strengths we build walls. We incite competition. When we acknowledge our common woundedness, we find ourselves disarmed. Connected. Members of the same tribe. Which makes me wonder.
How much of the division that occurs in the world and in the church arises from the failure of people to acknowledge and own their wounds? As long as we knowingly or unknowingly refuse to own our brokenness, we end up focusing on the distance between we and our fellows.
When we take the risk of owning and revealing our fears and pains, we suddenly find that the distance between we and our neighbour’s has shrunk considerably. Which means we are actually close enough to bear each others’ burdens (Galatians 6:2).