Driving around Denver I tend to notice places of hurt. I see drug deals happen in parks. I notice the intoxicated man lying in the grass. I notice the tired mom, wrangling four kids as they wait for the bus, because they have no transportation of their own. I see a world that has more hurt than one can sort through. That’s part of the burden of working with populations on the edges–you start to see how prolific and populated the edges are.
How do you engage that much hurt? How do you love well in the middle of it? How do you unsee some of it?
First, I don’t know. I don’t know how you can engage all the hurt that is present. It’s dizzying to think about all the hurt that demands a response. Why does this injustice exist? Why is that hurt perpetuated? It’s impossible to know what to do with it all.
Second, I think the only way we can ever love in the middle of it all is to simply start. Start loving in someway some how. Start a conversation. Share a smile. Begin getting personal with the hurt, because then the hurt becomes about people you know rather than about problems to be solved. That is much more energizing, humanizing, and beautiful. We have to trust that love will be at work for much longer than we can understand, doing more than we can do on our own. Love amplifies our efforts to something bigger than our own capacity. We have to trust that and lean into that hope.
Third, you don’t unsee the hurt. You can’t. Personally I wouldn’t want to even if I could. The seeing of hurt makes me appreciate healing. My recognition of the ugly allows me to recognize beauty all the more. And when I am able to see the hurt in me, and in the individuals I engage with, we can provide an avenue for healing through one another. Not that we provide the healing, but sometimes our own hurt prevents us from seeing Jesus, and we need someone else to point us there. As we seek to be like Jesus as we see the hurts of the world we must respond with compassion. Henri Nouwen says this about compassion: “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”
When we see the hurts of the world, we must immerse ourselves in the hurt, otherwise the hurt will overcome us. And thankfully, we have a Healer that can overcome any hurt.