Pain is expressed in a variety of ways. Sadness, tears, and anger are expressions of pain. In the past two days, I witnessed two moments of pain. The first I saw from a distance. Even though I was not involved, the characters were ones that I identified with. A careless word, expressed in a moment of exasperation triggered a wave of anger, tears, and likely betrayal. Neither side anticipated the outcome. Given their deep relationship, I am confident the wound will heal with time.
The other rebounded to become a self inflicted wound. My words, as positively intentioned as they were, hurt someone close to my heart. As I struggled with the damage they were doing, I found that I was wounded in the process as well.
Pain is often like that. When soldiers “carried him [Paul] away, the crowd followed, shouting, ‘Kill him! Kill him!’” (Acts 21.36) At the time, the words were expressed in anger. With time, the words sunk deep within every soul present to inflict a unique kind of damage.
The actions you and I take today will, in all likelihood, hurt those around us. In doing so, we will hurt ourselves as well. As I look at the damage from my words, I offer the following reflection for your use as well as my own.
It is good to acknowledge the pain that comes from our actions. In doing so, we open up the opportunity to do something in response.
It is helpful to listen to the expressions of pain expressed by others. It may not be easy. Far too often, one wants to justify. In all circumstances, stepping back to listen is good.
Reflection in the context of acknowledging and listening provides perspective. The answers may be fleeting, yet they are closer when one looks with more clarity.
I have no easy answers to yesterday. I do know that I can act to make a difference going forward. I long for a day when I can act without hurting others around me. Whenever this comes, it cannot come too soon.