It is impossible to know, and probably not all that helpful to speculate about, the deep mystery that makes it possible for some people to come through dark circumstances relatively intact while others navigating similar circumstances are unable to find a place of stability, health and strength.

It is not given to us to know answers to most of the deeper human questions. But, reflecting upon my own, somewhat unsettled early teenage years, there are three things I do know for certain:

  • There is never any place for judgement.

I am in no position to judge those whose lives have unraveled along more difficult, painful, and chaotic lines than my own in response to trauma.

Judgement and condemnation always come from dishonesty and unconsciousness. When I am honest about my own life, I know there is no place for me to sit in judgment on anyone. We are united in our experience of brokenness and our common struggle to live in the present in light of the broken shards of the past.

We are all doing the best we can with the tools we have in the often confusing miasma that surrounds so much of human experience.

The chaos of some peoples’ lives is not a moral issue. I am no better because my life has followed a relatively stable and healthy trajectory. The person whose wounds manifest in ways more visible than mine is no less a person than those of us who manage to keep our vulnerability hidden under the cover of respectability.

When I allow the pain I have experienced to truly do its work in my life, it leads, not to judgment, but to compassion. If my pain does not cause me to become a more compassionate person, I have failed my pain.

  • The road to recovery lies along the way of surrender to a power greater than myself

I lack the tools to heal myself. There are endless forces that have had an impact on my life. I have almost no control over the realities that have brought me to this place. It is not defeatism to acknowledge the limitations of my power and ability; it is simply realistic.

It is no mistake that the second and third steps in AA’s Twelve Step program state that we:

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

The Gospel makes the bold and startling claim that we have been healed. In Christ creation has been restored. Despite all appearances to the contrary, we live in a healed universe. The grace of Christ permeates all of existence. The power of healing is present in every dimension of life.

Only the invisible mysterious power of grace makes it possible for me to live in whatever small degree of wholeness I manage to manifest in my life. As I surrender to this transcendent Power of Love, my consciousness of the healed reality in which I am invited to live grows and deepens. To the degree that I am able to see the healing and reconciling power of Christ in my life and in the world, I will be able to fulfill the third lesson I take away from my fractured past.

I will suggest this third lesson tomorrow.