Denial of pain is not uncommon among seminarians and theology students, and it impairs mission, ministry, and relationships among families and friends. Sometimes students begin their studies seeking to heal the world but fail to recognize their own brokenness as the source of that zeal. They discover the needs of street people, the ill, or survivors of global tragedies without asking why they themselves are so drawn to the afflicted, or alternatively, why they want to work only with the healthy and prosperous.
Overlooking the intimate connections between their inner worlds and the plight of others, the students deprive themselves of one of their deepest resources of empathy and compassion. Without their own stories, ministry becomes a projection of their wounds onto the world, or mission becomes a one-way street in which the “whole” condescend to help the “broken.” In these imbalanced relations, the afflicted become objects of instead of subjects; the well-intentioned burn out; and solidarity, mutuality and friendship are thwarted.
Kathleen O’Conner, Lamentations & The Tears of The World, p. 93
I read these words in my research for my dissertation and I was cut to the heart.
Maybe the reason I am doing my dissertation on Lamentations was because I needed to read this book.
It is so much easier to project one’s wounds onto the world and then busy yourself healing them, rather than admit those wounds scar your deepest self and then cry out for help.