Community of Suffering: How Sharing Pain Heals LivesApril 23, 2010 • Posted in:
When calamity strikes us, it often does so when others around us are living calm lives. Like a tornado that touches down only on a single house in a subdivision, we are struck while everyone else is left standing. We feel marked, singled out, different. Our personal chaos takes place while others continue to live their everyday lives.
The first question we ask is, “Why me?”
When breast cancer hit at 32, Randi was caught completely off guard. She was young. This wasn’t supposed to happen. When her hair began to fall out from the chemotherapy treatments, she felt strange no matter what she did to hide it. No wig, no hat, no scarf looked right. Angry that nothing seemed to work, she started making excuses for staying at home. If she couldn’t conceal her baldness with a hat outdoors, she’d hide it by staying indoors. And it wasn’t just external things like the hat. It seemed that when she did want to talk about the cancer, the person she was speaking to avoided the subject like the plague. If she didn’t want to talk about it, sure enough, someone would call her up to find out how she was doing. At those times, the sympathy from healthy people was more than she could bear.
Living with deep pain can be an all-encompassing experience. The pain keeps drawing our focus back to itself. Inwardly focused, it’s easy to believe that other people don’t understand what we’re going through. Our pain becomes a badge — a “C” for cancer, a “D” for divorce, an “L” for the loss of a loved one. The pain becomes our identity. So, as we look around at others who wear no such badge, we assume we have nothing in common. We feel alone.
However, suffering is universal. Since many of us choose to suffer in private, we are often completely unaware of the individual paths to healing others have taken. We assume, since others appear normal, that nothing challenging or hurtful has happened to them. If we investigated further, we’d be amazed at the wealth of experience, help, and compassion that’s available through others.
The solution is confession. James tells us that we are to “confess [our] sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that [we] may be healed” (James 5:16). Pain is not necessarily sin, though much of our pain comes because of sin. Yet confession is cleansing.
We need to be open and honest with each other about the pain in our lives. We need to be willing to ask. When asked, we need to be willing to share. We need to be willing to pray for one another. This is the connection that brings healing.
SOURCE: Chapter 7: “Connections,” God Can Help You Heal by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD., founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources Inc.
Review Blog Schedule (every weekday devoted to excerpts from a different book by Dr. Jantz)
The Whole-Person Approach to Depression Treatment
By: Dr. Gregory Jantz • March 13, 2021
People arrive at the point of depression from many different places, indicating there are a variety of paths to recovery. In short, there is no one answer for depression and no single path to recovery. Just as the reasons for depression are a varied as the individuals who suffer from...
Getting Stuck in Hurt and Isolation
By: Dr. Gregory Jantz • August 6, 2018
When you take the risk of opening up to others and begin to share who you are with someone you learn to trust, you are on your way to emotional wholeness.
Is a Messy House a Sign of Mental Illness?
By: Dr. Gregory Jantz • January 11, 2023
There are very few of us out there who are able to maintain a perfectly clean home all of the time. Kids’ toys are strewn about, the clean laundry never gets folded, and the dirty dishes pile up. This is all a normal part of adult life. But where does...
Get Started Now
"*" indicates required fields
Whole Person Care
The whole person approach to treatment integrates all aspects of a person’s life:
- Emotional well-being
- Physical health
- Spiritual peace
- Relational happiness
- Intellectual growth
- Nutritional vitality