So if you read the last blog, you got some insight into how suffering can be a means of salvation. However, here’s an essential piece that dawned on me in terms of what it is that makes suffering a means of salvation. What makes it a path of salvation is the healing that comes from suffering. In reality, it is the healing from our suffering, which then turns our suffering into a means of salvation. The reason I say this is because everybody can suffer, but everybody doesn’t necessarily heal.
The first thing is you need to understand that healing is a long, arduous process that, unfortunately, at times and with certain things, can take a lifetime. I often hear people say they will do _______ when they heal from ________. But what if that complete healing never comes? Behind those statements is a fear of uncertainty. The only thing you can be certain of is the process of healing. It’s not black-and-white/all-or-nothing where it’s either I am completely healed from whatever it is before I do whatever I want, or I don’t do it at all. The fact of the matter is that healing is a lifestyle, not a single event that occurs in time, but a journey that continues with us into old age.
The other thing is you need to deal with the victim, or the “woe is me” mindset. When we experience trauma and abuse in childhood, it is easy to project onto others our pain, fears, and insecurities in adulthood, thinking that everyone else is the problem and we’re not. When we look at the common denominator in our relationships, we’ll see maybe we’re the running theme; maybe it’s us. Don’t get me wrong; this is not to discount, invalidate, or minimize the trauma and suffering we have experienced. Personally, I don’t think a person can move on from the victim mindset until they’ve validated their trauma. When we accept the suffering that has happened to us, we can own our healing. Yes, it is a burden to heal. Yes, it is a burden that we are responsible for healing even though sometimes our suffering is not brought on by ourselves, whether natural disasters, abuse, or disease. But what will continuing to project and blame onto others achieve? How will holding on to the unrealistic expectation that people won’t hurt you do for you? Again, this doesn’t mean we don’t hold the people responsible for the suffering accountable for their actions. But at the end of the day, you have to realize that people are doing the best they can with the best they got, and that hurt people hurt people, but that doesn’t give us the green light to start hurting other people.
Another thing is you need to realize you’re not just healing your own “stuff”; you’re also healing generations of suffering. Most likely, when you were a child, everyone in your family was looking at you, carefully trying to crack if you had your dad’s nose or your mom’s eyes. It’s like a fun game of seeing which parent won more in the DNA contest. Much later in life, we do the same thing only with personality and behaviors. However, you might swear up and down that you are not like your dad or your mom; you can’t deny that you have some similar traits and tendencies. We also inherit behavior patterns, coping strategies of our parents, grandparents who did not process their trauma. We call this intergenerational trauma, and it is REAL! Research shows that trauma impacts the brain, ultimately shaping it in various ways that can eventually pass down. You can respond in two different ways; however, like anything, there are two different results. Breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma is hard work; you are trying to heal years of hard-wired adverse brain changes.
Suppose you don’t put in the hard work now. In that case, you’ll only continue to suffer yourself, and the continued generations after you. Although intergenerational trauma is real, intergenerational healing is achievable too! Not only are you doing good for yourself when you break the cycle, but you are also healing the cycle for your children and grandchildren! Whether you’re a parent or child or friend or coworker or classmate, the best gift you can give others is the best version of yourself.
Healing becomes a means of salvation when we allow ourselves to be healed by Christ and then become a healing presence to others. “Better said, Christ is the healing presence in us who moves through us to heal others” (Becoming a Healing Presence, Albert Rossi). One of my favorite verses is when St. Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4, NKJV). But the thing is, we can’t do any of these things without first submitting ourselves to the Holy Trinity. Then and only then “we become a healing presence because Christ is the healing Presence through us. He is “all in all” through us to others.” You can’t give what you don’t have. You can’t give Christ’s healing presence to others if you are not intimate with Him yourself. We become intimate with Him by surrendering our lives to Him and our suffering and our healing daily. There’s a therapeutic adage that says “the only way out is through,” and the only way out is through healing, and healing isn’t a single event; it’s a practice.