Allowing ourselves to feel suffering is the only way to heal from suffering.
When my husband was a teenager, he was involved in a devastating auto accident that nearly took his life. Despite the crumpled mess of his car, despite the fact that his windshield was shattered on the asphalt because he’d been hurled through it, despite the fact that he was shattered on the asphalt, wrecked next to the wreckage, he felt little if any pain. His entire body was in shock, and he soon became unconscious from the extent of his injuries.
It wasn’t until later, safely stabilized, operations complete, lying in hospital recovery, that the agony hit him. And it hit hard. The path to healing was excruciating, yet it was also necessary. If he hadn’t felt pain, that would have meant he was paralyzed and would never walk again.
If he hadn’t felt pain, something would have been seriously, tragically wrong.
The only present-day reminders of such a traumatic experience are scars which have now faded into barely-noticeable white marks on his skin. I quite like them, to be honest—I see them as battle wounds of strength.
Healing is like that. Walking through fire is agonizing, but it’s the only way out. If we don’t face our pain head-on, if we try to avoid it, we’re delaying the inevitable—and in the long run, we’ll end up causing ourselves more suffering.
We’ve all experienced trauma, tragedy, disappointment, heartbreak, and even betrayal. These experiences of suffering aren’t what God wants for us, but due to original sin they’re very real aspects of the human experience. No matter what our wound, whether it’s based in shame or shock, tragedy or turmoil, there’s a common foundation.
I'm Jenny duBay, a domestic abuse survivor and now advocate. My degree is in Christian theology with a concentration on spiritual direction, and my vocational emphasis is on helping those who have suffered from domestic abuse to heal and reclaim their true selves.