This is the first reflection in a month long series titled, 30 Days of Healing, as we seek to be instruments of peace and change.
“Where Does It Hurt?”
This is the question we must be asking ourselves. Equally important, this is the question we must be asking others, especially those most impacted by the racism that is leading to the recent protests and upheaval.
The question, “Where does it hurt,” was first posed by social activist Ruby Sales in response to her hairdresser’s wounded daughter. This question provided a space for the daughter to share her pain and struggles so Ruby, and others, could help her heal.
We are a wounded world, and certainly in America, a wounded nation. If we are honest, we recognize that we are wounded individuals.
Social media, communities of like-minded people, and relatable talking heads make it easy for us to simply point fingers instead of seeking understanding. We label others with titles that only demonize and dehumanize the person and the behavior.
We would be all better off if we posed this question, “Where does it hurt?”
As the Prayer of St. Francis appropriately says, “O, Lord, let me not so much seek to be understood as to understand.”
How can you ask those in your life, especially those that you might not understand (from their actions, social media posts, conversations), where they hurt (or where they are seeing hurt in others)?
By asking “Where does it hurt,” we will be engaged in empathetic listening. We will seek understanding instead of making our point heard. Our actions will lead to mutual respect and appreciation.
If we can do this, if we can lead with a genuine desire to understand, then perhaps others will seek to understand you.
An important mentor in my life used to say, “everyone has a story to tell, they just don’t always have someone to listen.”
Listen to the stories. Avoid the instinctive reaction to defend yourself or to justify your stance. Simple listen.
We must also ask ourselves this question. We are all wounded. We see the world from a formed perspective, some conscious and some not. How might our own cracks and pain be influencing our thoughts and emotions?
This is important self-work. How often do we see violence born from pain? How often do we see people hating what they choose not to value to see in themselves?
As Fr. Bryan Massingale wrote yesterday, “Stay in the discomfort, the anxiety, the guilt, the shame, the anger.”
In my book, Dreams Come True, I explore this “Where does it hurt” question in one of the concluding chapters. Intentionally placed after the self-reflective exercises, it invites the reader to once again explore their dreams and their responsibility to heal.
We must continue our education and exploration of self-growth. We must name and seek the healing of our own wounds. And, we must be in relationship with those who experience a different reality, who face different hardships and injustices.
The more we can live with the focus of serving instead of being served, our world will heal. We will heal.
Consider these healing words from Sales as she offers a vision for how we can proceed:
What it means to be humans — we live in a very diverse world, and to talk about what it means to be humans is to talk with the simultaneous tongue of universality and particularities. So, as a black person, to talk about what it means is to talk about my experience as an African-American person, but also to talk about my experience that transcends being an African American, to the universal experience. So I think we’ve got to stop speaking about humanity as if it’s monolithic. We’ve got to wrap our consciousness around a world where people bring to the world vastly different histories and experiences, but at the same time, a world where we experience grief and love in some of the same ways. So how do we develop theologies that weave together the “I” with the “we” and the “we” with the “I”?
So, today, ask yourself: Where does it Hurt?
And ask someone else, someone that you might not understand, the same question- Where does it hurt?