By Marilou Schnaderbeck (and no it’s not 1:10AM, I just don’t know how to change the time on my blog)
I’ve heard the statement ‘honoring pain’ a couple times now and it intrigues me. What I like about that concept is that it gives me permission to protect my painful experiences or memories from others who have not walked closely with me through the valleys and who could easily, although not necessarily purposely, brush off or in essence minimize what I have gone through.
Most recently I heard Steven Curtis Chapman use it when recounting the significant trials their family endured when their son accidentally hit their daughter with the car, which resulted in her death. I believe he was describing the thought process he and his wife went through when trying to determine if they should tell this story, because they wanted to honor the pain their family endured. I sure appreciate that idea. I am not an eloquent writer or speaker; I do, however, want perfection when being understood. If I can’t adequately express my thoughts in a way I think they will be well understood, it is really frustrating for me. So to try to relay deep personal pain; the kind that has me literally prostrate before God, would be very difficult and in my mind, risky. Thus enters the comforting thought of honoring pain. What this statement says to me is “this person has experienced intense pain. Pain that has lasted many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, maybe even decades. This pain has generated intense grief, regret, disbelief, anger, shame, tears, etc that cannot even begin to be adequately expressed. And even if the pain and struggles could be expressed perfectly , the words may not be translated the same way by the listener so that they would understand the depth, and width and weight and height of the emotions and the utter tragedy their heart (which only God has a true understanding of) has endured due to this difficult situation.”
Honoring pain would be to love others as myself (which in itself is lacking), and although trying to see a situation from another perspective is a natural and sympathetic thing to do, to assume I have a good idea, let alone any idea, what someone else has endured, felt, thought, and struggled with would be presumptuous and unloving.