The phrase “stepping over your pain” was part of a devotion written by Henri Nouwen. I read the devotion at a time I was being asked to move beyond a wrong and painful situation. I have never forgotten this phrase and it helps me process other situations where I feel the Lord calling me to forgive and never mention it again. This is easier to say than to do, but I have found it necessary to learn the art of stepping over my pain in order to gain the ground I need to live freely in the world.
I am a very matter-of-fact person. I speak the truth and value the truth even if it is hard to take. I’m sure there are many people who must step over their pain after talking with me because I value truth above being tactful—it’s something I am working on. It is more natural for me to confront the truth head-on than to back down and cover up a conflict or a problem.
It’s always a struggle for me to step over my pain. I say this because there is a huge difference between avoiding conflict and stepping over pain. I only step over my pain when I believe God is asking that of me. I struggle within my flesh each time I do. When I think of my relationship with God, it propels me to be grateful that He constantly steps over His pain to remain in relationship with me.
How many times a day do I cause pain for God? How many times do I say things that He specifically told me not to say? How many times do I forget that He wants to be part of every moment of my day? How many days do I ignore Him or forget what I read in the Scripture each morning? This is all painful to God, but He seems to be delighted with each little step I take towards Him rather than pointing out all the ways I have failed. Psalm 19:12 explains:
But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
We cannot even know how many ways God steps over His pain when we cannot even know the depth of our sins. God shows me the example of how to live in the midst of painful and disappointing relationships. His Spirit guides me to confront sins in others’ lives carefully and with much prayer. Paul’s word to the Galatians (Galatians 1:1-2) is about how to live together as sinners:
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
There is a delicate balance between recognizing sin in another person and owning the sin in your own life. You will never confront a sin in another human being that are beyond your capacity of doing, because of the blood of Christ and His work in your life. Awareness of blatant sin in another’s life is best experienced with a humble, realistic awareness that but for the grace of God there go I.
So there will be times in relationships when God calls you to step over your pain so that you can be used more fully in another’s life. Be careful that you don’t call stepping over your pain a strategy to avoid conflict. Since my nature is to confront, it’s easier for me to know when God is asking me to step over my pain, because it creates an inward battle and deep conversation between me and God. Yet, I have found stepping over my pain to be one of the most fruitful blessings in gaining ground in relationships that might otherwise be separated.
Each time I choose the higher ground, I do so because God has guided me to the mirror to see how many times He chooses the higher ground to remain in relationship with me. Praise God for His mercy and grace.