One of the first indicators that one has tumbled into the generation gap is when your children bring home music that you do not understand. In fact, you are not sure at times that it is music, it seems to be a meaningless rumble of irritation.
Happily, like most things, this irritation does pass and there comes a time when some sort of common ground is reached. My sons, knowing my musical preferences, are good about introducing me to new singers they think I will enjoy and so I have just purchased, under instruction of course, a CD by young singing sensation, Adele.
I put it on as soon as I got home and was half listening, and I must confess half impressed, when she sang a line that made me stop what I was doing and start listening. It was a line that gave the first words to expressing some of what I have been grappling with over the past few weeks.
Why is it that pain, or heartache, or hurt, or remorse, any of those painful emotions are so destructive? Why are they so difficult to unravel, to grasp hold of, deal with, overcome? I was thinking about emotional healing, and it is patent that unless we can unravel the threads that cause the pain, we can never come to a place of wholeness.
As I heard Adele sing “… so I spend my whole life hiding my heart away” I got the beginnings of an answer. The old clichés about walls of defence don’t really put it as well as this line does. How do you heal what is hidden? The short answer is that you don’t, you cannot. If a surgeon does not see where the tumour is, he is not able to cut it out.
The prophet Isaiah puts it this way:
Look, all you who kindle a fire,
Who encircle yourselves with sparks:
Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled –
This you shall have from My hand:
You shall lie down in torment. *
We lock ourselves into our pain, and as we do we lock others out. We also lock out any help, even divine aid, that might bring release. That wound then festers inside the prison of our hearts, turning ever inward, boring into the soul, unleashing its torment. The only solution is to make sure no further barbs gain entrance, so light the fire, build the wall, turn the key do whatever you think you need to in order to protect that wound.
If you have ever built a fire outdoors you will know that not only does the heat keep predators away but sparks fly off that themselves have the potential for starting a fire, or burning whatever is close by. That is what happens to us: as we build this ring of fire we burn those that get close to us and we hold at bay any others that might want to get close to us.
I am of the generation that was brought up to believe that it is right to hide one’s heart, that it is shameful to admit to pain. The ability to control one’s emotions is praised. As for getting help – the “shrink” stigma is a great deterrent. I would like to put it to you that those advocates of “bravery” and the “stiff upper lip” brigade are really advocates of cowardice.
In truth, it takes gut wrenching courage to face one’s pain. Looking your hurt in the face is just the beginning of the process. From there you have to move onto owning it, taking responsibility for it and dealing with it openly and honestly. Hidden is never good. Casting blame onto others, no matter how justified that might be, only delays and obscures the issues. As the prophet says, we light the fire that surrounds us, we have to accept that we have a portion of blame. We have to take the first steps to extinquish the blaze, and if we get blisters in the process we need to know that they too will heal. We are the only ones who can open the doors, and “unhide” our hearts.
Fine, you might say, I’m open, I’m brave, but how do I get rid of this ache, how do I find the courage to trust again, how do I move forward from here?
I have a picture in my mind of a scene in heaven. God is pacing the floor because He cannot bear to see the agony of his finest creation as the enemy of their souls causes them to tear each other to shreds with cruel words and deeds. Jesus is there, and He is moved not only by the plight of fallen man, but also by the sorrow of His Father. The Holy Spirit is restless, impatient, waiting for the time when He is released to play His role in the redemptive plan.
It is only the overwhelming love of a Saviour, who, when seeing His father’s anguish at the pain inflicted on and by His pinnacle creation, cries out: “Let Me go, I can do it, I can take the beating, I can even bear the cross if that is what is needed to end all the hurt, all the suffering.”
God is torn between the need of His created man and His love for His son. The Holy Spirit is anxious, believing Jesus can do it, but the cost, can he really do what needs to be done all alone down there? God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit all knew the enormous sacrifice that was needed if complete healing and release were to become reality on earth.
The rest, one could say, is history.
So to answer your question: Will you let Him in? Will you allow your heart to stop hiding long enough for Him to find you? Will you allow His living water to extinguish the fire you have built around yourself? Will you allow Him to be your Saviour, this man Jesus?
13 September 2012
*New King James Version, Isaiah 50:11