Write “tenderly.” That was the prompting I felt from God as I prayed for the umpteenth time for guidance on how to write this article. I heard it in my heart: “Tenderly.”

Friends, this is a challenging journey.

The call to “suffer with” in the role of pastor, therapist, counselor, or chaplain is one that holds great joy and great sorrow. You have seen the best and the worst of people. The really difficult thing (that likely no one warned you about) is that you cannot go back. You cannot un-hear the stories that you have heard. You cannot un-know the types of evil and abuse that have been perpetrated on people dear to you. You cannot un-see the images of destruction, violence, or mutilation that have been in your gaze. You hold the reality of human life and human pain in your heart.

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