In hopes of finding parenting wisdom and guidance last night, I sat to read a chapter in Frederick Buechner’s Secrets in the Dark entitled “Adolescence and the Stewardship of Pain”. Oh, how you get so deep under my skin, Mr. Buechner! I thought this would be a nice little read to help me help my son, but no – it was all about me in my perpetual adolescence. So true! I want to be a big girl, I do.
The chapter is so dog-eared and underlined that I am unsure how to distill it for a little blog entry. I will try because it held such meaning for me, but I’m hesitant. He takes exactly the number of words needed to make his point, so to pull out sentences borders on disrespect. My best recommendation is to stop reading this entry, order the book, and just read it for yourself.
If you are still here, the parable he uses to make his point is the 3 servants left with talents as their master travels. Mr. Buechner reminds us that sometimes the “talent” we are given is pain – pain that can make us more or less human depending on our handling of it. At the end of the story, the worthless servant who loses his measly little talent is the one who buried it out of fear. NO!!! My life is on full display right there in the book of Matthew. Who’s the adolescent now?
When pain is buried, it is wasted. It is left to rot instead of being used for glory – for the glory of human connection. We are called to be traders of our talents, whatever talents we are given. “To trade is to give of what it is that we have in return for what it is that we need, and what we have is essentially what we are, and what we need is essentially each other. The good and faithful servants were not life-buriers. They were life-traders. They did not close themselves off in fear, but opened themselves up in risk and hope.”
Risk and hope have not been prominent character traits in my first 43 years, but hopefully I have time to change courses. Maybe I will write my words and sing my songs instead of burying them. Glory be! I will become a life-trader, a trouble-sharer, a joy-toker, and hopefully an occasional pain-reliever. If you are reading this, you are probably already one of my fellow-traders, and for you, I am deeply grateful. Please forgive me for the times I have withheld my little talents, whether they be my pain or my unique giftedness (and we all have that). “The buried life is itself darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth and the one who casts us into it is no one other than ourselves.” I have lived that hell on earth, and God rescued me in His unending mercy. I never want to cast myself in that pit again.