Last month I pointed out that Wounds shape our lives. By wounded I mean bruised and hurt by circumstances (often out of our control).
Many of our choices arise from the needs our wounds have created because every hurt leaves a scar, every hurt leaves a memory, and consequently, every hurt molds our thoughts and attitudes and expectations.
Many have written comforting words about the place of wounds. I suppose because wounds are inevitable and largely unavoidable. Last month I shared Rumi’s thought that wounds are, “the place the light shines in.”
These words of Rumi have an intuitive truthfulness that I personally connect to God’s grace; a grace that redeems wounds as compassion, and wisdom, and creative expression.
However, aside the benefit of God’s redeeming graces, wounds can and do limit our potential. But with insight and courage, we can move beyond them to live more authentically.
To understand (and eventually heal) our wounds we must first distinguish them from a) the act of wounding and b) the consequences of the wounds. For example, child abuse is the act of wounding. The wound itself is likely shame or fear or anxiety (or all the above). And the consequences of those wounds might evolve as people pleasing behavior or some form of rebellion…either behavior the result of compensating for, or expressing the pain from, the wounding caused by the abuse.
The effects of the above example might be an unhappy, anger infused marriage void of emotion and passion, or a life full of burnt bridges and/or broken relationships…or an endless list of misshapen experiences.
Healing begins with focus on the wounds not the circumstance the wounds created. In my priestly work I am often asked to pray for people’s circumstances but less often about the wound that may have gotten them there. This short sightedness is why some of our prayers go unanswered (or seem to). Over focusing on the circumstances hides the real issue.
What does work is praying for insight into the wound that either provokes and maintains your stress or, as in many cases, created the circumstance you want changed. Without this focus we simply recreate the same broken mess.
And it is important to note that we can only guess at what life has in store for us once the healing of our wounds begins. For example, someone who thinks they need to leave their marriage may discover that once the inner healing begins the marriage is salvageable, with different parameters. This is another reason that focusing on the circumstances (and not the wound that got us into those circumstances) falls short of the real need.
Living beyond the wound means first acknowledging the legitimacy of our wounded experience, then naming the wound effectively, and then seeking insight as to how the wound plays itself out.
As a pastoral counsellor I must say that such insight is a gift. It is where the grace of God comes into play and for which we might focus our prayers.
Insight comes through trial and error and it will reveal itself with time. And is often informed by trusted friends, partners and professionals. Patience and forgiveness are key virtues.
But that’s not the end of it. Insight is not healing. It’s just the beginning of the courageous journey.
I’ll explore this journey more in part 3 (next month).