Pain, Perspective, and Truth

When I was asked to write a blog entry for Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I wasn’t sure where to start when talking about my experience as an Asian American living in the United States. For many years, my identity as a racial minority was not at the forefront of my focus. Any pain I, or my family, felt from racial discrimination was pushed into my subconscious thought world because I didn’t know how to deal with it. That all changed in summer of 2020. I remember sitting on my bed in June during the height of national grief and anger over the injustice of George Floyd’s death and the pain and fear the AAPI community was feeling because of increased racism against Asian communities due to the linking of  COVID-19 to Asian identities. I felt nothing. I wanted to feel anger or sadness or grief or anything other than numbness, but 22 years of suppressing pain alongside lots of fear and anxiety kept my emotions very much at arms length.

I remember begging God to please let me feel something, and it took two months for my prayer to be answered, but it was answered in abundance. For the first time in my life, I processed deep pain and hurt caused by racism on both societal and personal levels with God. It took ten months of lots of tears and questions, but I’ve learned a lot. Here are some things I’ve learned in the past ten months.

The Bible is a very safe place to grieve. I camped out in Psalm 42 for all of this year, and it has taken good care of me.

God’s perspective is the only one that is worth pursuing. Political or religious leaders are also human beings trying to navigate a world full of sin; looking to them to relieve your pain and give you the understanding you need will not satisfy you the way God can. I’m not saying to disregard everything the leaders in your life are saying, but I am saying to filter everything through the lens of God’s perspective before allowing it to become your own. Additionally, your own perspective is also inherently limited and flawed, and submitting it to God’s perspective is deeply humbling (and often painful), but it is worth it.

I was praying a couple of months ago, and God reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite shows, “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. It doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the show or not, but the quote is wisdom that the main character is given in the middle of a moral dilemma. It says, “The true mind can weather all the lies and illusions without being lost. The true heart can tough the poison of hatred without being harmed. Since beginningless time, darkness thrives in the void but always yields to purifying light.” Since God reminded me of this quote, my prayer has been that I would have a true mind, a true heart, and that every bit of darkness within me would yield to the purifying light that is knowing God.

I will say that what I’ve learned does not at all apply only if you’re processing racial pain, but racial pain is the context I am coming from. However, pain is pain, and no one is immune to it. It’s the result of living in a broken world full of sin, and every ounce of our pain is worth processing with God.

If there’s anything from this season that I want to keep with me forever and that I would want to be taken away from this blog entry, it would be that we are safe to process with God, God’s perspective is healing and good and most worthy of pursuing, and the emotional labor of processing pain with God is absolutely worth it.

Author  |  Anna DiCosty

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