Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wounded Healer

Another of my favorite authors is Henry Nouwen.  I am reading his book "Wounded Healer." He taught at Notre Dame, among other places (but really those are inconsequential after you've taught at Notre Dame).

In this little book, he attempts to encourage us into a new type of ministry to our brothers and sisters.  He says that, "In our own woundedness we become a source of life for others." Often we want to cast off our weaknesses and help people through our strength and support.  But Nouwen urges us to "keep living our wounds instead of thinking them through."

Nouwen openly suffered from depression throughout his entire life.  He is one of few people who shared openly and honestly about the struggles in his life. including his depression and homosexuality.  I think that so often we bury feelings when we are hurt or sad or wounded.  But this is the exact opposite of what we should be doing.  Nouwen doesn't advocate for us to wallow in our wounds and continue to be drug down by our pain, but it is through feeling and understanding our pain that we can help ourselves and others.

It's hard to feel hurt.  And we know all too well that there are many unhealthy ways to cope and bury hurtful feelings (here's looking at you Charlie Sheen).  In a world that is constantly busy, it's easy to let uncomfortable things happen and never really deal with the feelings that go with those experiences.  And so we bury things, deeper and deeper into our souls.

In one of my more recent surgeries, I had a wound that magically appeared after surgery.  For a while, the doctors kept it under the cast, hoping that it would heal itself.  When that didn't work, they sent me to physical therapy to have them debride it and keep it open, but it still wouldn't heal.  They tried to put me on oral antibiotics and tried to surgically close it, but nothing would make this hole to my bone close.  Finally, after 10 weeks of a PICC line and antibiotics directly to my heart, the darned thing closed.  It was a painful and very difficult time of my life.  And even now, when I struggle with something I look to the quarter sized scar on my tibia and the ever so small scar from the PICC line on my right arm and I gather strength from knowing that I made it through that experience.  By suffering and coming out on the other side, I am stronger now.

Another point of The Wounded Healer is that we are to share our faith in community, share our wounds with one another and through our sharing and the power of God we can heal one another.  We congregate in churches and organizations for a reason: God intended us to share this life with one another.  I often keep my faith bottled up.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post...such a tribute to the beauty of the struggle God presents us with. It's amazing how much sitting with our pain alleviates it. Thanks for your courage!