We began our group discussion with the normal “ice-breaker” small talk stuff. How long was your trip, how did you get connected with Inheritance of Hope, etc.? It was nice; it was cordial. One man stated that he wasn’t really into talking about these kinds of things. He quickly “passed” the conversational ball to his wife, the one with cancer.
Pretty soon, the honesty came forth… it was hard, refreshing, human. One woman, who had been battling cancer for some time, said, “Our whole life has been changed… they put me on a table, telling me to hold my breast, and moved me around like an animal…”
No words of mine could make that kind of experience make sense.
Another man soon spoke and said, “The main thing is to remain positive.” Through tears and anger, a young woman with four children talked about how she thinks of her daughter’s wedding day, when her daddy won’t be there. “How can I be happy then when her father is dead?”
The discussion reminds me of the words in Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 and 11:
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance…
He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart…”
God has given us a very rich human experience. Whether “good” or “bad,” “pretty” or “ugly,” God has made us capable of so many emotions. When we have walked in excruciating pain, “either/or” thinking melts away. It doesn’t work to explain things anymore.
St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” Leonard Cohen said, “There is a crack in everything, and that is how the light gets in.”
No matter how great a therapist, one cannot answer the “why” questions that deep pain evokes. Deep pain that is beyond words. Pain is not the enemy… the shrinking back of the human soul, that is real slavery. Pain opens us up to something different, a new way of seeing, a new way of being. It can wake us up from the illusions and images of “importance” that so flood our culture and consciousness.
Lean in to God with all of who you are. The smiles, the tears, the screams. He is big enough to handle all of us, all of our emotions, all of who we are.
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when the children learned about the lion Aslan, the Christ figure, they asked, “Is he safe?”
“No,” was the reply. “He is not safe, but He is good.”
Trust His heart. Lean into Him. Give Him your full Self. He is not safe, but He is Good.
Kevin Wimbish is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and ordained pastor in North Carolina. He is the director of Family Life Coach, a therapy and consulting practice in Asheville, NC, dedicated to leading marriages, families, and organizations into vibrant relationships. Kevin received his BS in 2002 from UNC-Greensboro with a major in Human Development and a minor in Sociology. He earned his master’s degree in Marriage & Family Therapy from Auburn University in 2004. Kevin and his wife, Julie, have two children: McLean who is 8 years old and Claire who is 5.