Being a therapist definitely gives one a unique perspective on humanity. I live everyday in human pain. I hold it to the best of my ability. I attempt to go into the depths of it and experience it with my clients. I hold their hands, and sometimes I cry too. They ask me all the time, what is the purpose of what I’m going through right now? I try to help them to figure that out for themselves. Most of the time this is a long journey full of ups and downs to find meaning out of trauma and tragedy. Client after client I try to put the puzzle pieces together of where the pain is coming from, how it is affecting them, and what it looks like to come out on the other side of it.
Over the years, I have thought about why there is pain on earth. Why are children abused, why do mothers lose their children, why are people around the world trafficked? I don’t pretend to know the answer 100%. I remember taking a class in undergrad on the book of Exodus. My professor challenged us with this very question by asking why his daughter was born with disabilities. There was so much emotion in his voice as he asked us. Why would God allow this? The whole class just stared at him, afraid to answer for fear that we would offend him and his delicate situation. I think we’ve all asked ourselves that question before. Thinking about all the pain in the world can be overwhelming.
So how do you have hope and faith that God is a good God that wants the best for us? I can’t just tell my clients the answer to this question, because they can’t see the forest for the trees. It is something that must be experienced and not some knowledge that they can learn from someone else. It’s only after we get out of the trees and into a clearing that we see the forest.
When people start to heal they gain depth of character and perspective. For example, when are you most grateful for food? When you are hungry. When are you most thankful for connection? When you are lonely. When can you truly appreciate peace? When you’ve known violence. Perspective is so important to true understanding.
Brene Brown talks about the importance of empathy versus sympathy when we are trying to help someone else. It’s not enough to just acknowledge someone else’s pain. You have to find a part of yourself that can connect with their pain and climb down into that dark hole with them. Only at that point does someone feel seen and supported. That is authentic love to not be afraid to feel your own pain for the sake of connecting to another human being.
This reminds me of Jesus. He felt the ultimate amount of suffering just for us. He knows exactly what it’s like to be an outcast, abused, tortured, and even killed. He sees our pain. In John 11: 33-35 we see Jesus connect to his own emotion while his followers were mourning the death of Lazarus. It says, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. “
When I think about the goal of healing clients or trafficking survivors, I don’t just think about them returning to some kind of normal functioning. I hope that when they get to the other side of it, they are better people because of it. They are better able to empathize with other people that are hurting. They are better able to appreciate beauty, peace, and comfort, because they have known the opposite.