Behind the Curtain – Reaching Out Blog #19

“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.”

Matthew 11:28-30

“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.


2 thoughts on “Behind the Curtain – Reaching Out Blog #19

  1. This reminds me of an experience I had when we were serving in Lincoln. We were going through a very painful trial, about which we were instructed not to speak. This was my first time to suffer in such a way. I began to realize, as God was counseling me, that others could benefit from the process of healing that I was passing through. I read often about dramatic deliverances and wonderful stories of spiritual healing, but they are always written after the fact. I felt that someone in the midst of great trial could have something to say to others in the midst of great trial. I contacted our headquarters and asked if they would accept my writing in the midst of my journey. The person told me no and that I should contact then when I had the full story to tell. Of course, when the victory was won, I had no more need to share and felt no leading from the Spirit to do so. I felt then, and I feel now, that the person I spoke to was wrong, and that many could have benefited from such an open and difficult journey. I think that you are right that you need to share in the midst of your pain, as the Spirit leads. May God give you strength to do so.

  2. Much like you, I am a loner, Surprised? i doubt it as the nut does not fall far from the tree, or something like that. The truth is that most of us try to handle things on our own. It is difficult to train ourselves to immediately turn to God who can truly help us. Seven decades of life and I still struggle with that! We are all “wounded healers” in the sense that no one escapes pain in their life. Most often it is emotional or spiritual pain that nearly incapacitates us. Physical pain, in some ways, is much easier to deal with. Usually we are still in the healing process when we are called upon to help heal someone else. I think that God knows that healing can take place for ourselves and those with whom we are sharing even similar pain. Hang in there with God as there are likely many years ahead in which to experience both pain and healing from God who cares.

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