I spent nearly every summer of my youth on a softball diamond. Sports, especially softball, is a wonderful teacher of life lessons. I learned about teamwork, respect, the power of believing in yourself, winning, losing, hard work, humility, sacrifice, and pain. Yes, I learned a lot about pain! Most people are “playing hurt” by the end of the season, but I also witnessed my fair share of season ending injuries.
One such injury happened on an otherwise routine play at the plate. I was playing first base and my friend, Megan, was pitching. After a wild pitch, Megan ran to cover home plate in an attempt to prevent the runner at third, now charging down the line, from scoring. Unfortunately, she set her feet incorrectly and as the runner slid into home, instead of sliding between Megan’s feet, she slid right UP Megan’s right leg, now blocking the way to the plate. Playing first base meant I had rotated to the pitcher’s mound and had a front row view of the metal cleat slicing through Megan’s uniform and driving up her calf. However, the strangest thing happened. This gruesome injury didn’t bleed! Not one drop hit the ground or shown through onto her white uniform pants. It seemed that as the runner slid into Megan’s leg, her body drug an abundance of dirt with her than packed the fresh wound.
Gross, I know… but there are many lessons about healing emotionally in this story. When emotional wounds happen, there are three main ways we can respond. One, we can stuff the pain and pretend everything is fine. Like the dirt that filled my friend’s wound, we stuff the wound with busyness, alcohol use, good grades, or anything else we can think of to try to stop the bleeding. And it does stop the bleeding, but it doesn’t lead to healing. Eventually the dirt needs to be cleaned out for the wound to truly heal.
Sometimes we get stuck in the hurt and believe that everything is wrong. We take on a victim mentality and are no longer able to see anything good happening in life. Like a child with a cut, we want everyone to see our injury, but we don’t trust anyone to touch it. Our wound becomes our identity and does get people to tend to and care for us, but again, the wound does not heal.
There is a healthy response. We can share the hurt with God and with others. There are four steps to sharing our pain. First, name the pain. When Jesus passed by, those in need of healing cried out over the bustling crowd to get Jesus’ attention. They were often scoffed at and told to be quiet, but they were desperate and yelled all the louder. They acknowledged that they had pain and that they needed healing.
Second, acknowledge Jesus is the only place to received true healing. Before performing a miracle, Jesus often asked the person, “What do you want?” What a strange question! Certainly Jesus knows that a blind man wants to see or a lame person wants to walk! Jesus wanted the person in need of healing to acknowledge that he alone is the source of true healing. When we are in pain, we don’t just need healing, we need Jesus.
Third, receive Jesus’ healing touch. In 21 of 34 recorded miracles, Jesus touches the person he heals. Allow Jesus to draw close enough to your woundedness and pain that he can touch you. Give him access to the darkest, deepest and most painful parts of the wound. Allow his loving and gentle touch to bring a kind of healing that you could never imagine.
Finally, share the comfort you have received with others still hurting. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all compassion and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
This is no easy process. Healing hurts. We know and accept this when it applies to physical wounds. Everyone has experienced the sting of cleaning out a wound and know that it typically hurts worse than getting the wound in the first place. Anyone who has had surgery knows that recovery hurts worse than the injury itself. Physical therapy is often slow and painful. But there is healing in the hurt. Emotional wounds are no different. They need to be cleaned out and bandaged and tended to in order to heal properly. Yes, healing hurts, but it also makes us stronger and draws us closer to God. My prayer is that during this Lenten season, you will find the strength to share your wounds with Jesus, the provider of true healing. It may hurt, but the hurt is worth it.