“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“The act on the stage of our life will probably always look better than what goes on behind the curtains, but as long as we are willing to face the contrast and struggle to minimize it the tension can keep us humble by allowing us to offer our service to others, without being whole ourselves.”
Nouwen uses the analogy of the stage to show how there are often two sides to what we do: what happens in front of the curtains is for the whole world to see while what goes on behind the curtains is private and open only to those who are allowed to be there. How many times do we find that what happens behind the curtain is dramatically different from what goes on in front of the curtain? The problem is when there is discord behind the curtain.
Let’s shift this analogy towards our current discussion about the move from hostility to hospitality. I have often been placed in the position of counseling someone while I am experiencing pain of my own. Sometimes I’m experiencing the same pain as the one I am counseling. It makes it difficult to counsel. If you’re like me, you don’t like to offer solutions to problems that haven’t worked for you either. Nouwen says, “How many of us don’t feel an inner apprehension when we hear our own pains in the story of those who ask our help? . . . But maybe it is exactly this paradox that can give us our healing power. When we have seen and acknowledged our own hostilities and fears without hesitation, it is more likely that we also will be able to sense from within the other pole toward which we want to lead not only ourselves but our neighbors as well.” It is this statement that leads to the lead quote for this blog.
So what goes on behind the curtain can bring humility to our life in front of the curtain. It allows us to offer that very healing we are looking for ourselves. And in so doing, we may find that healing coming right back to us.
I’m a loner by nature. I struggle through my pains and sorrows on my own. When I can’t take it any longer I reach out God and seek strength in Him. Of course, I know this is patently stupid. God wants me to share those pains and sorrows with Him first. I need not carry the load alone and it’s foolish for me to waste my time trying.
While God is the first one I should go to in my time of need, there are others that God can use to help. I think what happens in my own life is simply distrust. Do I trust those around me enough to help me handle the pain inside me? Or do I fear that anyone I share with will immediately betray me and make my pains more public than I ever wanted them to be? The problem with all this is that I carry my burdens alone and for a lot longer than I should. And when healing comes, I’m not in a position to share it with others.
I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one struggling in this life. We’re all in this together and maybe it’s high time we act like it. Everyone has burdens like I do. My pain isn’t the greatest pain that has ever existed in all the world over all the time. After I have given my burden to God, the time has come to share His healing strength with those around me. There will never be a time when life does not give me burdens to bear but they can serve a higher purpose. Shared together we can take life’s burdens and minister healing and love to one another.
Oh God, help me to live outside of my shell. Help me to share my burdens with those around me and, in turn, share the burdens of others.