A couple of weeks ago my sister came to visit. We watched a movie that we had both seen before, but I hadn’t seen it for years and I didn’t even really remember the plot. It’s a charming story that is a brilliant blend of the mundane with some time travel, the moral of which is to live each day to the fullest. As the movie finished I started to cry. I felt sad about all of the days of my life that I had failed at this. Not just that I didn’t stop and smell the roses, but the days, months and years I spent betraying myself. I cried also for the way I continue to fail at this even now when I am trying so intently to be present and be inspired.
I think poor Megan was surprised by my reaction. It’s a feel-good movie so these kind of tears would not be expected. I tried to explain and as I did the vision came to my mind of a dam holding back millions of gallons of water. My tears felt like a little bit of water that was spilling over the dam. I felt the pressure that the immense mass of water was applying to the dam. Pressure that needed to be released but, if it was, would likely destroy everything in its path. “I don’t know how to let it out,” I told her.
I’ve thought about the dam and the water since then. What to do about that overloaded structure, that probably isn’t serving me anyway.
I’ve thought about Christ. Maybe he can remove the water from behind the dam. I don’t think Christ works that way though. I don’t think Christ takes away our pain. I’ve heard the expression, “Just give it to Christ,” all of my life. I have handled a lot of what life has thrown at me by trying to do this. But I think it was actually just building the dam, raising it another level so more water, more pain, could be held back keeping my river flowing smoothly and calmly.
I told my sister, part of the reason I’m struggling with believing Christ right now is because he is the tool I used to stay in my marriage. I kept applying Jesus Christ bandaids to my pain, which effectively hid them from my view but didn’t actually heal anything. I don’t mean any disrespect by saying this. It’s just the best way I can describe it. I have considered that maybe if this was the result then it means that I was doing it wrong, that I was incorrectly applying the atonement. I actually think that might be exactly right. But God knows I was doing my best. I know he knows.
So as I was doing my walking prayer last night with R in the stroller fast asleep, I considered a piece of my pain. Just a few gallons of water that were reserved behind the dam. I cried as I considered the years my ex and I had to get to know each other, and in the end how little we knew. I cried because he missed knowing the best parts of me. The part that loved colored paperclips and poetry and spontaneous dance parties. There wasn’t any room for that part of me. I wondered what parts of him there weren’t room for too.
As I cried for these lost opportunities, I thought of the dam and the water. I felt the pressure fall just slightly. And I realized why people say, “Time heals.” It’s not time that actually heals. It’s that the water can’t be released all at once without destroying the banks. It must go slowly. It takes time. This is why Jesus Christ bandaids don’t work. I don’t think Christ is meant to keep us from our pain. I think he meant to walk through it with us, in the same way we are meant to walk through it with each other.
So please don’t tell me to give my pain to Christ. Tell me you will sit with me in my pain. That you will hold space for it. That you will bear witness to it. That you will love me in spite of it and because of it, because that is what Christ would do.