May 12, 2012

Insulation and Medicine

"Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:10


The other day, I went to an interest meeting for Walla Walla's masters in counseling psychology program. As the only sophomore in a group of juniors and seniors, I was slightly out of place: I was the only one the presenting professor hadn't met yet.

It was an informative meeting, one I was glad I attended. When I first came to this school, I was fairly certain I'd just stick around after I graduated and go straight on through the 2-year masters in counseling program. It's been slightly over a year since this idea concerning grad school (and ultimately concerning career) started to shift. So while I sat and listened to the details of program curriculum and financial aid and obligation, I couldn't help but think, Well, I am certainly uncertain. Guess I'm officially part of the club.

But that's an entirely different matter than what I wanted to explore. Several minutes into the meeting, the accompanying PowerPoint presentation flashed a slide onto the screen with this quote:

"Do not insulate yourself from the pain in the world. When we open ourselves to the pain of the world, we become the medicine that heals the world."

And I was astounded. This was how to explain it.

I was leading out in a Bible study one night a couple years ago, and while I can't remember the topic of the night or the means by which our conversation shifted in the manner that it did (which would be interesting to remember, considering the result), I do remember one thing that I said. I was trying to explain a compulsion that I had been experiencing since I was 17. The explanation went something like this:

Tita Evelyn and I spent many hours tearfully
discussing the pains of life.
"I know this may sound dark, or morbid, or twisted, or whatever…But I find I don't feel right unless I'm in a place where I can see the pain of those around me. In being in contact with people who are openly suffering, I feel like I am really living in reality, really connected to the reality of sin and the true condition of the world--not just walking through the fa├žade of the world. The true state of earth and the realization of spiritual warfare become so much more evident. I need to see it--to have my gut wrenched by the sight of it and to have my heart ache from it--for my own soul. But beyond this, I feel like I need to see it so I can change it. I won't feel right unless I am acting as God's vessel for change, to bring love and healing to wounded hearts. I need to go to hell on earth so that I can bring some of heaven into it. I don't feel right unless that is where I am: in the hells of earth."

If I remember correctly, there was a slight pause, and then one of my friends leaned slightly towards me. "Yeah," he said, "that does sound kind of morbid."

So this week, when I read those two sentences, I was amazed at their power to succinctly encapsulate the stirring of my soul. And I wonder if, really, this isn't something that every heart yearns for in one capacity or another. To be honest and open and real with our pain, even as those around us are as well, there is connection, solidarity, support, understanding, comfort, growth, and healing.

The Lord's Prayer is probably one of the most well known passages of the Bible, up there with John 3:16 and Psalm 23. So it is easy to recite without realizing the full force or meaning of the words. But to me, when I get to that phrase "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," I can't help but stop and imagine what that would look like: for earth to fully experience God's will, no sin attached, earth would be as heaven.

A sharing of heaven.
So then the question is how can God's will be done on earth? What does that look like? And I think it looks like us. Humans living in the love and light of God, touching those around us, passing on this love and this light. Living as though we were already in heaven. And if we each live as a piece of heaven, I think the world would seem…less like hell.

So I claim this as my truth and the pull of my heart. I will not insulate myself from pain. I will feel it. And I will work by God's will to heal it. To be medicine.