The Wounded Healer
All writers know the occasion of having a mind and heart full of thoughts that are urging to be shared. Then when the moment is taken to put those thoughts and emotions to pen, the words don’t come. The thoughts and emotions are raging inside, flitting about like a bird in a cage longing to be freed but there is no relief. That is where I find myself this morning.
In the past day or two, I have found myself in a different mood. Normally, I am overrun with ideas and the desire to attack many tasks waiting for completion. But then come those moments full of conflicting emotions. “Is it all for naught?” “Is it making a difference?” “Am I helping or being a nuisance?” “Should I stop pushing, me and others, forward and just let us be?” “How can I stop when there is so much to do and the need is so great?”
It was these kinds of thoughts I awakened with this morning. To add to the conundrum, I had a notification from Facebook that garnered my attention. It seems a college classmate from 30 years ago had “hearted” a post I’d made on her comment. In reviewing the notification, it seems that the original exchange occurred twelve years ago and yet she had, just yesterday, clicked the love icon on my post. Puzzling.
I don’t know her well. We attended Cumberland College in Williamsburg, KY at the same time. I friended her back when Facebook was new and like most of us do, I invited and accepted anyone who wanted to be a friend. Her posts were, are sad posts of hurt and anguish. Somehow, I learned that her anguish was caused because her husband had committed suicide. While I don’t know this tragedy in personal experience, I can easily imagine some of the questions, doubts, and confusion that would come from this kind of event.
In 2009 she posted on Facebook crying out from her feelings of weakness and confusion. In my attempts to connect and help, I inferred that I too go through similar feelings and that there is a song that helps me. The song is “I Won’t Last a Day Without You” released by The Carpenters in 1972. Some of you may remember that Karen Carpenter had a beautiful, soulful voice. She struggled with anorexia nervosa and died in 1983 at the age of 32 when her heart gave out.
Here are the words to that song and a YouTube link at the end of the article you can listen to:
Day after day I must face a world of strangers, where I don't belong, I'm not that strong
It's nice to know that there's someone I can turn to who will always care, you're always there
When there's no getting over that rainbow, when my smallest of dreams won't come true
I can take all the madness the world has to give but I won't last a day without you
So many times when the city seems to be without a friendly face, a lonely place
It's nice to know that you'll be there if I need you, and you'll always smile, it's all worthwhile
Touch me and I end up singing, troubles seem to up and disappear
You touch me with the love you're bringing I can't really lose when you're near.
If all my friends have forgotten half their promises, they're not unkind, just hard to find
One look at you and I know that I could learn to live without the rest, I found the best
I Won’t Last a Day Without You is a beautiful love song. The singer is feeling depressed and overwhelmed by the uncaring, busyness of the world but she takes refuge in knowing that there is one who loves her and is always there for her.
Verse three is the main verse that comes to my mind when I’m feeling lonely. That verse reminds me it isn’t that my friends don’t care, they do, and that true, real friends are very hard to find. Truth is we have lots of friendly acquaintances, but a friend is a rare person to find.
The other observation is that the song could well be sung about, and to, God. He is a true friend who is always there and who always cares.
Back to my Facebook friend. I don’t know what prompted her to “heart” my post twelve years after it was first posted. All I can assume is that she is feeling similar emotions and in re-reading this exchange it spoke to her again. That observation and realization led me to lift a prayer on her behalf once again.
In our world we struggle with the desire to be recognized as the unique individual that we are. As the Bible says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) And yet while we are uniquely individual, we are also very common in similarity with our fellow humans. We all labor and dream. We all have joy and celebration. And we all experience grief and sadness, loss and confusion, dejection and frustration. We should be able to extend grace to each other better than we do but too often that consoling, understanding friend is hard if not impossible to find. Certainly, one should be able to find that respite and a resting, safe place in our churches, but too often when they turn to the church they only receive criticism and reproof, not a hug or sympathetic ear.
We all suffer hurts, setbacks, disappointments, and fear and if we allow, our Lord God will effect healing in our mind, body, and soul. More than that, He will teach us how to be “The Wounded Healer,” helping others through their pain.
There is a book titled “The Wounded Healer,” authored by Henri Nouwen. It is a small paperback book and can be found in print, as an audiobook, or as an eBook. I recommend it to everyone especially Christians who, like our Lord Christ, wish to be a help to those struggling.
The premise of the book is simple but profound. Basically, our healing from wounds we experience can give us greater empathy and capacity to help others in their time of pain. While we all have much to do and not enough time to do it, if we can learn to stop when another, friend or acquaintance or stranger, is in need we can build something greater than any edifice we could construct. We can build a stronger person.
We ooh and ah when we see pictures or occasions of a hen covering her chicks with her wings to protect them, or when we see a mother dog, cat, cow, any animal in fact caring for her loved ones. Jesus expressed that kind of love for Israel as recorded in Matthew 23:37. He longed to love and protect them, but they were not willing.
May we first be willing to let Jesus cover us with His healing wings when we are hurting and then once healed and or comforted, may we cover others with our wings that they too may be healed. That is the love of Christ that will resonate in a lost and dying world!
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