“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”—Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey
“As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their “right” place.”—― Henri J.M. Nouwen
"In spirituality we learn far more from getting it wrong than we do by getting it right." - Richard Rohr
Last week, I heard some unsettling news. News, that if I’m honest, is really none of my business. But, since I genuinely care about those involved, my first response was one of concern. Some old friends, who I haven’t talked with in a while, are on the verge of making a huge life decision. They’re getting married. Under normal circumstances, I’d be happy for them. But in this case, I’m not. I’m troubled.
One of them has just recently gone through (and I’d say, still in the middle of) a pretty painful experience. It’s still very fresh. And so, there I am all alone at the breakfast table having this internal conversation… pleading.
"It’s too soon! You really need to heal. You’ve gotta talk this out with someone. Give it some time. You need to make sure you’ve recovered from all this stuff. Can’t either of you (or anyone close to you) see that this can’t possibly have a healthy foundation? Come on bro, this isn’t wise at this time."
All the things I want to say but can’t.
Then… the voice. I suspect you know this voice as well. The response in your internal dialogue that is supposed to be theirs but in reality, is your own.
"Who are you to say anything or even have an opinion? Your failures were big. Epic even. Your failures were public. You let people down. You’ve got nothing to say to them or this situation."
And with that, my train of thought came to a screeching and deafening halt as my mental engineer threw the switch to full reverse.
I don’t know if what came next was God speaking or just my increasing resistance to this negative self-talk but it was loud and certain.
"My failures don’t disqualify me from speaking into these kinds of situations but instead they actually make me more qualified to speak."
Let me say it this way…
Your failures don’t disqualify you from speaking into people’s lives. Instead, they actually have the potential to become the most powerful ingredients of your qualifications. It may take time, but you begin to speak with more, not less, authority. You begin to draw from something deeper.
: ”In spirituality we learn far more from getting it wrong than we do by getting it right.”
After all, what is more common to humanity than gross sin and epic failure? What’s more universal than deep pain and struggle?
Grace to Speak
When we allow grace from God and grace from others to heal us deeply, we actually become more equipped to speak to those walking through similar situations. Don’t run from your ability and responsibility to help others simply because you are insecure. People know your junk or maybe it’s just that you do. Either way, get over it.
If (and that’s a big “if”) you’ve healed, grown, and recovered from your darkest moments, then allow God to use you as opportunity comes your way.