We humans are a holey bunch.
We all have holes in us–places that are broken or wounded, places of suffering and pain. These holes come from all the difficult things that have happened in our lives.
On some level, we all know these holes exist, but most of us do not want to acknowledge them, because acknowledging them is painful. It’s hard and messy and ugly.
So instead of acknowledging the holes, we hide them.
We cover them up.
We ignore them.
We numb ourselves and hope they will go away.
Some of us numb our holes with unhealthy things like drugs, drinking too much, overeating, or binge TV watching. Others numb them in ways that seem healthy on the surface–like excessive exercising–but this is just another form of covering them up. My method of choice was busyness. Just keep doing stuff and the holes will go away.
But the holes will not go away with any of these methods. The hurts are still there. So we have to figure out a way to deal with them and heal them. Fr Richard Rohr writes:
“In this time of suffering, we have to ask ourselves, what are we going to do with our pain? Are we going to blame others for it? Are we going to try to fix it? No one lives on this earth without it. It is the great teacher, although none of us want to admit it. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it in some form.”
To heal our holes, we must transform them.
And to do that, we must first see them as our teachers.
We must reckon with them.
We must acknowledge them.
We must feel them.
This can hurt like hell.
Spiritual teacher and author Iyanla Vanzant writes:
“There is no greater battle in life than the battle between the parts of you that want to be healed and the parts of you that are comfortable and content remaining broken.”
By comfortable and content, I believe she means it often feels easier to numb ourselves than to take the journey through the discomfort that comes with acknowledging and feeling our hurts. Yet it is precisely through this journey that transformation and healing can happen. And when we walk this path, we begin to see that we are not alone in our pain. We see that we are all holey people. We see that the holes are part of what makes us human and that being human is hard. Bad stuff happens to all of us. LaVera Crawley writes:
“The primal howl of existential suffering holds within it the lesson that we all must learn at some time in our lives: To heal from our suffering—not merely to ease or palliate it, but to transform it into the source and substance of our growth and wisdom—requires a journey through it. We must listen attentively for whatever message it has for us and, according to [psychotherapist Miriam] Greenspan, find authentic ways to befriend it so that we can surrender to its transmuting power.”
Opening ourselves up to the holes is a journey into greater wisdom, well-being and wholeness. When we acknowledge, accept and befriend the holes in us and others, we begin the process of becoming wholly human. Until then we are just skimming the surface of life. Living a wholly human life can be difficult and painful. True growth and transformation often are. But it is the only path to true healing and allows us to have deeper connections with others.
It is through this process of uncovering and transforming our holes that we begin to see who we are at our core. We develop a deep connection with ourselves. We see that underneath the hurts and scars there is a presence that is both whole and holy–a presence that cannot be hurt or harmed. John Philip Newell writes:
“…within each one of us is the unspeakably beautiful beat of the Sacred”.
It is through the holes in our lives that the beautiful beat of the Sacred can be felt and seen. Covering up the holes keeps it hidden and where it can’t be truly experienced and shared. It is through the holes that we connect to this presence. And it is through these same holes that this presence–this unspeakably beautiful beat–can also radiate outwards.
And by taking this messy yet transformative journey, we begin to live our lives as holey, wholly, holy humans.