After my dad died, some 10 years ago now, I experienced a particular prolonged grief that dove into my physicality. The effects were challenging and compounded, and I learned in a definitive and profound way that my body could not be disconnected from my mind and my spirit. The grief was only indirectly connected to my father’s passing; his passing was, however, catalytic to everything that followed. The wounding and the healing.
About three years into the quest for wholeness, I made a phone call to a health and wellness clinic. I had consulted with the physician a couple of times, but for the most part, it was the office staff that gave direction for on-going support. On my cordless telephone, sorting through some papers in my file cabinet, I shared my questions with the woman I usually spoke to. She listened patiently. Then she said not unkindly but firmly, “You know, Shannon, you’re not the only one to have ever experienced this.” It hurt me terribly. She was right. She was probably wise and discerning. I felt blood rush to my face, like the sting of a swift slap. I said a few more things, I said thank you. I hung up. That phone call changed the direction and the momentum of the healing process. With a new determination, I turned to face my crap and kick it into order, pile by pile. I didn’t dial the clinic again.
That conversation comes back to me from time to time. It doesn’t sting anymore. She said what needed to be said, what I needed to hear just then whether I wanted to hear it or not. It might not be what I would have said in the same situation, and it might not even have been completely necessary. She may have been speaking out of a place of her own pain and a struggle she was facing that day or in that season of her life. But she said something true, and that truth tells me things about walking through healing.
You can not know my pain and my struggles exactly. I can not know yours exactly. They are our own. The manner in which an arrow comes into your heart, mind, body is not the manner it enters mine, not exactly. In that way, I can not understand completely.
On the other hand, you have arrows that have struck you, and they pierced your skin, sometimes the very deepest places internally. Me, too. You are on a road to wellness and soundness. Me, too. You are a human who cries and laughs and longs for shalom. Me, too.
Our troubles and pains and heartaches are unique. Our stories belong to us. Jesus tends to each of us intimately and personally.
Those same bleeding places are not unique. Our stories are woven together by some strands; we are connected. At the very least, we share our humanity. We need each other to cry with and laugh with and pray with while we walk the road.
While I didn’t need the counsel of the lady at the clinic any longer, I did need people to keep calling to the true things within me, things buried and forgotten, shattering things and glorious things. I surrounded myself with others who gave me words of life and pointed me to the Healer. They let me walk alongside them in the same fashion, and I was able to give back words of life and point them to Jesus. The wounds manifested in unexpected ways. So did the healing of my body, my mind, and my soul.