Where Do You Hurt?

This fall, I read through the book Holy Listening by Margaret Guenther.  The author is an Episcopal priest, author, mother, wife, teacher, and a spiritual director.  The book was gritty, yet nurturing at the same time.  There’s a part in the book where she describes the two most important questions that she asks her directees during spiritual direction:

  1. What do you want?
  2. Where do you hurt?

These two questions sum up so much of what we think about, dream about, worry about, cry over.  These questions dig deep and reveal a person’s true self and his or her deepest longings.  The theological language is stripped away; in fact these questions are quite simple.

But maybe not so simple to answer.  

Holy Listening

Can you imagine if the question “Where do you hurt?” was imbedded into everyday conversation?  How would that change our interactions?

First, we must know how to answer this question ourselves.  Our answer might be physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological.  There isn’t a right answer–but the desire to truly search ourselves and be honest must be there.

Some mornings while doing yoga, I feel that my hips are tight, that my stomach hurts from what I ate yesterday, that my breathing is more shallow.

Some mornings I woke up having cried the night before.  I was worrying about money, about relationships, about my job, my health.  Some mornings I wake up apathetic and just feel like I’m floundering. Some mornings I process the past and feel guilty or sad or angry, and must acknowledge that I need to feel these emotions until freedom can come.

Some mornings, I feel far away from God, or I can’t seem to sit still and just be.  Some mornings thankfulness comes easily and simply as I just seem to pray as I do everyday tasks.

The beauty (or possibly fear) is that there are difficult answers to these questions every morning.

God, and those close to us truly want to know these answers.  The Lord cares where you hurt, where you feel you fall short, how your body is feeling in this very moment.

The challenge today is to sit still long enough and linger with the question, “Where do you hurt?” Answer honestly.  Acknowledge where you are at in this moment, not where you want to be.  Accept love from God and others, for who you are, for where you at right now.

You truly are loved, even in the hurting, the stumbling, the groaning.  He groans with you.

Where do you hurt today?  Feel free to share in the comments, if you feel comfortable.

I will be sharing how I daily try to answer this question with you all on Friday.


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