This is what I did for a whole summer in Appalachia. I did it in paint and in the dirt. I did it with caulk (I learned that I loved caulk) and a hammer. But, this summer, I'm getting dirty with all that emotional stuff.
I'm getting dirty as I unpack and try to organize all of my baggage. I have a wealth of gifts that I can use to relate to people's pain. That's what they tell me. I've heard a lot about the pain that I have felt and how it can be a gift to the people that I minister to in the hospital. But, I've learned that I have been a survivor for 20 years. I hated it when people told me that. But, I really was. I was a survivor who knew when and how I could display my grief. And mostly, I just kept it tidy in a suitcase somewhere near my heart. I didn't show it. I rarely shared it. It was just there.
And now, after 20 years of being a survivor, I'm trying to figure out how to live into my grief. I'm having a really hard time with this. I'm not sure how to do it and I mostly find myself resistant, as I am right now. I want to get dirty. I want to get dirty in all of these emotions, but I'm scared. I'm totally freaked out actually. I want to be the strong one. I want to be ok with everything that's happening. And I'm not.
My friend Nayon and I have this tendency to people watch. Not only do we busy ourselves with watching people, we like to figure out their whole story. We start telling their drama to each other. We make it up as we go along. Perhaps this is the same protective distance that I maintain as I approach the families and patients in the hospital. I can read their charts and speculate about what their drama will be. But, I'm really afraid to get dirty in their drama, because their drama will reveal my own. It's a wondrous thing to be so connected to people's pain. But, at the same time, it's really scary and I'm not sure that I'm ready to get dirty for Jesus with all of these tears washing down my face.