(Writer’s Block) To see and love the wounded

This article originally ran in issue 78:11 of the Moody Standard, on May 1, 2013 as an installment of the author’s bi-monthly column, “Writer’s Block.”

It’s overwhelming.

I just walked down to the Houghton 3 lounge to give my mind a rest from writing the article on self-harm and from transcribing a student’s interview on her cutting experiences. Awhile before that I was reading some of our former columns telling stories of students’ pain. And my mind kept interrupting my writing and research; I kept thinking about the pain those closest to me are going through right now.

Then in the lounge, because of what I’ve been reading and transcribing and struggling to write, I looked up at the ceiling, imagining the floors and rooms and spaces above me filled with women who are hurting. The amount of pain and suffering contained in this building — it’s overwhelming.

There’s often an aversion to pain in Christian culture, but we’ve been doing better at Moody these past few years, haven’t we? David Ulrich’s Sackcloth and Tea column opened eyes to what’s beneath the surface of many peers’ smiles. The “Can You Relate” campus events have helped some see that others are dealing with the same issues they are. Efforts have been made, and as one of our articles pointed out, openness to vulnerability is trending.

I’ve seen it outside the Moody bubble as well. I’ve been reading more blogs these days, and have come across a few by Christians who desperately want to reveal how often pain gets pushed aside. “Letters to the Wounded {#2}” on aholyexperience.com was one of the most beautiful things I’ve read in a long time. I recommend it in a heartbeat, if you’re prepared for the likelihood of tears.

I may have fooled myself, though, and been lulled to contentment with the progress I’ve seen, both in and out of Moody, to see and address people’s pain. Just because we’ve made progress doesn’t mean that the problem isn’t still there, and the problem is that people are still walking around this campus shoving intense pain deep inside, sadly, to hide it from the rest of you.

So this new openness could easily be and stay just a trend. Because many of you don’t know who David Ulrich was, and certainly don’t remember his stories. The “Can You Relate” events only served to enlighten those who attended, and the rest of us had to rely on the few who ignored the request that the stories told there were not to be shared. The blogs as well are only a tiny fraction within the fraction of Christians who write and interact with blogs.

This is my last column, and I was going to write about how scared I am about my future — and I am. Desperately. And that’s something we need to talk about too, how scared we all are of the future even when we slap on happy faces and say we’ll figure it out as we go.

But this is more important right now.

You are more important right now. The people around you are more important right now — your pain and their pain, seeing it, addressing it, sharing it, loving each other in and through it, instead of despite it.

So I’m using this, my last opportunity, to tell you that it’s on you now. Look around you and realize that someone is reliving abuse right now; someone is feeling like she just can’t do it anymore; someone just started medication for severe anxiety, and all it’s done is make her nauseated; someone was emotionally abused last night; and someone has scars on his skin from last week’s razor blade.

Stop ignoring it. Stop being shocked. Start seeing it and acknowledging it.

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