“Grace flows through wounds” – Christopher West
I am learning to understand myself primarily as a wounded being. I don’t mean this in sense of ‘being a victim’ or ‘playing the martyr.’ It’s much deeper than that. It’s that we all are wounded in some way or another. Show me a man or woman in their 30s that doesn’t have wounds, and I’ll show you a dead person. We all have felt abandoned, unloved, unworthy, heartbroken, rejected, etc etc etc. Acknowledging my woundedness allows me to put down my greatest desire: perfectionism. Dr. Brene Brown puts it this way:
“Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.”
My woundedness makes me more lovable as I am not setting expectations on others to ‘earn’ my love. The danger of perfectionism is that you can never live up to your standard so you are always viewing yourself as a failure. You perpetuate the wound and invite infection. Acknowledging the woundedness also helps to help pinpoint the area that needs healing.
“Be faithful to your secret place, and it will become your closest friend and bring you much comfort. In silence and stillness a devout person grows spiritually and learns the hidden things of the Bible. Tears shed there bring cleansing. God draws near to the one who withdraws for a while. It is better for you to look after yourself this way in private than to perform wonders in public while neglecting your soul.” ― Thomas à Kempis
Love What Is.
This statement from my best friend over breakfast this last week at one of my lowest points has transformed my life. My striving for perfection also made me look for perfection out of others– my wife, my kids, my church, my work, the drivers on the road, and many more. So he challenged me that no matter the situation, I must “love what is”– not a hypothetical __________ (spouse, child, job, church)– but what is in that moment and love it. So my son stretching out a sweatshirt wearing it like a monkey (it happened), instead of getting upset over the sweatshirt, my desire is to enjoy that moment with laughter and joy. This is great and awesome and incredible.
But I so often forget that healing, like the wound, is most often just as painful. Especially if the wound has been allowed to fester or get infected or been ignored. Healing requires time to repair and kill those foreign bodies that are attacking your body. Healing also sometimes need professional help. Just like any major infection, you go to a physician to gain advice, be prescribed medicine, or have surgery performed to either heal the wound or repair it’s damage. For me, this is a getting a team of a therapist, confessor, and spiritual director. It’s allowing the ‘professionals’ to take control and guide my mind, body, and soul into the healing power of Christ. Healing takes time and treatments may not ever end, but Christ is our Great Physician who desires wholeness for all his creatures.
Finally, a lot of times, even if healed, we are still going to have scars. On my abdomen, I have a scar that stretched a few inches. This scar is a reminder to me that I had to lose something in order for my body to be healthy and to prevent death to the rest of my body. That scar is a reminder that 17 years ago, I had my appendix removed right before it burst.
We all have scars from our wounds of the past. Some because they healed correctly and they can be small depending on what type of surgery. Some are large and unsightly because we never dealt with it and covered it over hoping it would go away. We carry these scars, more so than our wounds, on our outside where others can see them. To allow our scars to be seen takes a great vulnerability that is harder than I would personally like. I have emotional, mental, and spiritual scars that I am deathly afraid of others seeing because they will know I’ve been wounded in the past. This post brings up many past hurts and reminds me of scars that still seem so fresh. As part of being honest with myself, I need to let my scars fly. They express that I am human, I have made many mistakes, and I need love like everybody else. They remind me that I need to acknowledge my past as what it was– something that really happened.
“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” ― Cormac McCarthy