Sometime I cringe when I listen to Christians talk (myself included). Here are a couple phrases it wouldn't hurt to hear less.
1. "God doesn't give you more than you can handle."
When someone's going through a rough time, it's a struggle to say the right thing. But it is always appropriate to say nothing. In fact, Scripture encourages people to "mourn with those who mourn." (Romans 12:15) You cannot rub the salve of magic words on someone's hurts to make their pain go away.
I think the reason most people are in relationships is to not feel alone. You get to experience things with a partner and love each other and stuff. Plus sex.
At least, I think the reason I am somewhat willfully single is that I don't want to feel alone--and I feel more alone in a relationship than I feel being single.
Last Sunday I attended my first church service in about six months. It’s been, altogether, a year or so since we stopped showing up regularly. Sometimes you build things up in your head. I guess, what I’m getting at is, the service wasn’t all that bad—a little boring, way too long, totally gloomy and forcefully emotionally draining, yes (as usual)—but not all that bad.
Your pain, deep as it is, is connected with specific circumstances. You do not suffer in the abstract. You suffer because someone hurts you at a specific time and in a specific place. Your feelings of rejection, abandonment and uselessness are rooted in the most concrete events. In this way all suffering is unique. This is eminently true of the suffering of Jesus. His disciples left him, Pilate condemned him, Roman soldiers tortured and crucified him.
Still, as long as you keep pointing to the specifics, you will miss the full meaning of your pain. You will deceive yourself into believing that if the people, circumstances, and events had been different, your pain would not exist. This might be partly true, but the deeper truth is that the situation which brought about your pain was simply the form in which you came in touch with the human condition of suffering. Your pain is the concrete way in which you participate in the pain of humanity.
Paradoxically, therefore, healing means moving from your pain to the pain. When you keep focusing on the specific circumstances of your pain, you easily become angry, resentful, and even vindictive. You are inclined to do something about the externals of your pain in order to relieve it; this explains why you often seek revenge. But real healing comes from realizing that your own particular pain is a share in humanity’s pain. That realization allows you to forgive your enemies and enter into a truly compassionate life. That is the way of Jesus, who prayed on the cross: “Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23: 34). Jesus’ suffering, concrete as it was, was the suffering of all humanity. His pain was the pain.
Every time you can shift your attention away from the external situation that caused your pain and focus on the pain of humanity in which you participate, your suffering becomes easier to bear. It becomes a “light burden” and an “easy yoke” (Matthew 11:30). Once you discover that you are called to live in solidarity with the hungry, the homeless, the prisoners, the refugees, the sick, and the dying, your very personal pain begins to be converted into the pain and you find new strength to live it. Herein lies the hope of all Christians.
- Henri Nouwen
With just a few days remaining before the release of 15 brand new Arrested Development episodes on Netflix, the hype built up over the last year is raising into a crescendo. All fans of the show—whether they watched the series when it first aired, binged on its DVD/Netflix availability long after, or both—fully appreciate how rare a gift this is, and the launch of the entire season at once is sure to make for some raging AD parties.