Sunday, April 8, 2012

Episode 36: The Descent of the Wounded Soul

Right click here to download the mp3.



Christ of the Abyss
Special Episode for Easter: There are so many of us who hide our wounded souls, fearful that others will see our pain. Often we are drowned in feelings of hopelessness and despair of ever healing.

In this short episode, I give my own interpretation of Christ's atonement and resurrection. In my view, he is showing us the path of our own healing. When Christ said, "Come follow me," perhaps he was showing us the way into our own darkness. 

Isaiah Reference: Isaiah 61:3

Please share your own experiences of wounding and healing in the comments. Please also feel free to share things that have helped you on your journey.

16 comments:

  1. thank you. thank you. i like this idea of christ so much more. that he was showing us a path, a way through it all, instead of somehow saving us from all our sins. i've felt so helpless in my life, like why would jesus help the sinner and not help me? why am *i* the one that gets left out? because someone else hurt me? because someone else sinned against me? so, jesus will help him but not me? i think you're right. we all have to walk our own path through the darkness. and then we'll come to the light.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous, I remember having that same thought: That Jesus was all willing to help the sinners, but he wasn't there to help me. Alma the Younger had three days and nights of torment, and then he wakes up all "born again," but what about those he injured? How many days and nights of torment did they suffer?

      Delete
  2. Anonymous for this: For myself and other survivors of abuse everywhere, thank you for this new vision of what healing and the atonement can mean. I've had many heart-breaking and frustrating days trying to find how I fit into the gospel. I have such a hard time trusting men, and so trying to talk to my leaders is so hard. And I've heard horror stories from other survivors about bishops who don't get it. Also, it seems that Elder Scott, who speaks the most about abuse, doesn't get it either. I had a friend who had left the church for a time while trying to deal with rape, and she decided to come back to the church for help. She looked up his talks on the church website on the topic of sexual abuse and rape, and after she read what was offered, she tried to kill herself. I don't know if she also read the horrible part from The Miracle of Forgiveness that says if you survive rape you are guilty of sexual sin, but we all tried to help her know that what the church has to say isn't very helpful when it comes to healing. In fact, and I'm trying to say this as nicely as possible, it's damaging and hurtful. It kills when it should comfort. We already know how to blame ourselves for everything. We don't need the church to add to that blame.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, Anonymous. The church doesn't have a whole lot to offer those who are suffering from sexual abuse, rape, etc. I've often thought about how the church is run entirely by men, and they don't understand the perspective of the women. They don't know what it's like, for instance, to be harassed everyday at work simply because of one's gender. They've been born into white male privilege for the most part, and that shapes their policies and practices, not to mention their writings. I hope your friend has found some hope.

      Delete
    2. Also, I get what you're saying about church leaders not being very helpful (and often being very damaging instead). I wish there were a change in policy and training so that women could seek counsel and help from female leaders, like the RS president or something.

      Delete
  3. I love how you expressed that Christ's mission was not to take away our pain, but to show us how to be whole. I love your courage, and your insights, Sybil. It sounds like you've been through a lot of difficult experiences, but that you've gained so much strength and confidence.

    I truly enjoy this podcast so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Heather. When I read your comment, I thought of the oft quoted scripture "be ye therefore perfect," which would be more accurately translated as "be ye therefore *whole*." Wholeness is such a different path than the pursuit of an impossible flawlessness.

      Delete
    2. "Wholeness is such a different path than the pursuit of an impossible flawlessness"

      YES!!!

      Delete
  4. I shared this link with an online group of women who had experienced traumatic and abusive childbirth and maternity care. Their pain is so profound that you offer such a sensitive and insightful understanding to that type of suffering that I hoped that they could see the hope that you discovered through your reflections on the atonement. Thank you for expressing the joy, hope and peace that comes when we are able to escape the pit of our suffering. And thank you for illustrating how Christ can help us to do that, even if its through his example and the offer of hope that its possible that it won't last forever. When in that place, it really does seem like it will.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a beautiful idea, Jenne, to share this those who have been wounded in these ways. It is so true that it feels like the pain will last forever. But it does get better. And it can become glorious.

      Delete
    2. As boys, men also see abuse which produces alot of shame. This can and often does lead them to become the abusers later. This creates a double whammy effect of shame and guilt. At some point in their lives men were innocent, and like abused women become victims of the world. Why does God permit this to happen? I think because you're correct that we all have to descend into the darkness. When I was young I thought the point to God was to be perfect or without sin. It took alot of living and searching to learn that Christianity is not about NOT sinning or being above sin, it's about being able to experience that darkness and being able to come out on the other side all the better, knowing first hand the difference between good and evil. I have come to believe that we didn't come here for the happiness, but rather for that darkness. We set up house and try to make this a good place when the truth may be that it never was. The problem is that while a good childhood might be important, we prepare them for more good, and not the darkness they must face perhaps thinking we can keep it from coming if we vote the right leaders in and go to church every Sunday.

      Nowadays I hear what Christ said in the New Testament about not being ashamed of him. I take that to mean not being ashamed of that darkness you speak of, that he paid for us to be able to experience in this lost and fallen state, the darkness we came to face. Not to say anyone should love it, of course. But that the darkness is the featured part of our experience makes sense given that it's opposite-speak Salvation is central. There is no Salvation, without the darkness, it's the other side of the coin. The church does not have a mechanism for dealing with it well and while the reality of it seems to be taught in the scriptures as agency, it is not well understood as far as I am aware.

      This explanation is really a story about about my conversion to Christianity when my true religion used to be focused on the law of Moses and being perfect.

      Sorry if this was too long :-)

      Delete
    3. Mike, thank you so much for your comment. I love what you say about honoring the darkness and about not being ashamed. There is so much that happens to victimize all genders. I'm glad to have your perspective here. Your comment is beautiful, and not too long at all. Thank you, again, for sharing.

      Delete
  5. Thank you. Your talk really hit the mark for someone struggling with the pain inflicted by others yet feeling guilty about that pain. It takes a burden off to be able to say that Jesus is a guide through the darkness and will help us to pass through it rather than feeling like we shouldn't experience darkness if we were doing things right.

    This is sort of how I've thought of "forgiveness" but that is such a loaded word and many understand it to mean different things. I see it as being able to move past the anger, hurt, desire for revenge, etc. because as long as I'm living my life in reaction to others' sins against me, then those people are still abusing or controlling me. It is about becoming whole and self-empowered again. Your talk merged well with my idea of forgiveness and gave it some depth and helped me see where Christ fit in.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for your comment, Anonymous. I think so many of us can relate to the feeling of "struggling with the pain inflicted by others yet feeling guilty about that pain." It's frustrating how much we're encouraged to take on that guilt. I'm glad that you are finding your own peace and self-hood.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A little late to this conversation, but I think you may find these quotes illuminating in the context of your discussion of Christ & the wounded soul. I have found them extremely helpful in my own search for healing and wholeness.

    “Each of the dark emotions has a purpose and a gift, a sacred, redemptive power that we discover when we come to it with mindful openness…Surrender is not about giving up our will, wallowing in our pain, or becoming victims of our feelings. It is the art of acceptance, of mindfully allowing the energy of the dark emotions to flow through the body to its end point. In surrendering, we let the dark emotions be. What follows is often unexpected and magical. (Miriam Greenspan, 2011, p. 146-147).

    "Rabbi Mendel of Kotzk once said, 'There is nothing so whole as a broken heart.' The world breaks our hearts open, and the openness makes us whole. Engaged with a brokenhearted world, we cannot and should not expect to be ‘cured’ of grief, fear, and despair. Rather, we learn how to become more comfortable with our shared human vulnerability. We learn the art and power of no protection–a spiritual power, not an egoic conquest won through armoring ourselves against pain, or against an enemy. To learn this alchemy, we must be willing to accept suffering and vulnerability as a normal part of life. Because we are vulnerable, life hurts. We are not here to be free of pain. We are here to have our hearts broken by life, and to transform that pain into love.” (Miriam Greenspan, 2011, pp. 148-149.)

    Not cured, but transformed. Grief into empathy. Depression into resiliency. Pain into love. That is the alchemy I am trying to learn.

    M.

    Greenspan. M. (2011). Healing through the dark emotions in an age of global threat. In K.L. Carrington, S. Griffin, & H. Teich (Eds.), Transforming Terror: Remembering the Soul of the World (pp. 143-149). Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

    ReplyDelete
  8. M. These are wonderful quotes. I have read this book and loved it. Thank you for adding it to the conversation here.

    ReplyDelete