Let’s sit and talk for a moment about your pain. I’ll pour a cup of coffee, and you can pour out your heart.
If you are among those who have experienced emotional hurt, harbored old wounds, or are in a painful place now, then this is for you. If you are in the number of people involved with helping a loved one with any such painful issues, then this is also for you. Because deep wounds cause scars and scars don’t go away; because seeing a loved one hurt, hurts too; and because those valid sources of pain are ever present, most if not all, at some point, need help.
Not a counselor, nor trained beyond the brief introduction we get from nursing psychology, I am addressing this subject only from the heart of someone who cares. Neither have I had enough life experience to feel like an expert. However, there is nothing new under the sun, (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and if we are careful observers of life, we learn as we go. The Preacher of Ecclesiastes went on to say, “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be numbered.” (1:15) Why then is it that people keep trying to go back and change the past? The past IS part of who I am, what I’ve become, for better or worse, built up or eroded. Whatever it was, it cannot be changed; but it can be used for building blocks to a better self, and compassion for others. If I could change anything, it would be to plant that notion firmly in the minds of some who are futilely struggling to remake the past. Looking for comfort from the Spirit of God this morning, I was reading in Colossians, though I can’t recall why at the moment. Do you ever find some matter of your heart shows up in the scripture you go to next? I do, and what I want to recall here is chapter 3, verses 12-14.”Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But ABOVE ALL THESE THINGS”(emphasis mine), “put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Holding on to the embedded notions of unworthiness, low self-esteem, or holding a grudge is caustic to the healing process. No good thing can grow in that environment. The continued desire to change the past by rehashing it and reopening old wounds will never change it. Rather, it allows it to breed toxins and fester into problems with our present relationships. Oh how I want to erase things from the minds of those in such anguish; until I remember that all we experience is who we are. And I wouldn’t want to change who they are; just heal the pain. All we can do from here on, is let it go and allow fresh granulation tissue to fill the wounds. The scar will certainly be there, but it should become a healthy, healed body.
As I was pondering the way people tend to use the past as a propellent for all future feelings, I thought about why some wounds heal and some do not. In nursing, I saw wounds that healed nicely, minimal scarring, and no residual stiffness. Then there were wounds that seemed destined for trouble. They developed infection, complete with all the different microbes and resulting nastiness possible. From the small gaps where the edges just fought coming together, to the gaping holes of purulent evidence, there was resistance to heal. Those require treatments that can be very painful, and usually have extensive scarring that interferes with surrounding healthy tissue, possibly causing less mobility if not worse. Two main factors make the difference in how the healing goes. Those are first, the condition of the host – the tissue and the supporting system; and secondly, how the wound is being treated. Relating this to the psychological wounds is pretty easy. How was the victim developing as a person before the painful encounter? That would be like the condition of the tissue. Was there a support system to help his or her emotional healing? That would be like the immune system. Did they ask for and get help, or meet with refusal to acknowledge the source of injury? That would be the medical community and infection control. (Now don’t go calling the person who inflicted this emotional wound, an infectious microbe!😁) Most importantly, does the host, that is, the person cut by life’s sharp edges, know where to turn. That might be the follow-up, self-care or home health.
When a deep scar has developed in one’s heart, it is so important that they know how to unclench their grasp on that piece of the past; a piece that has been so much a part of who they are. I believe we can get so wrapped up in some thorn in the flesh that we aren’t sure what kind of person we will be without it. I believe the Word of God has the best salve for the wounds, if we can just help those in pain to see it – really grasp and understand it. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15. Pointing to that peace as our loved ones struggle may involve a pain of its own. Our pain becomes real as the victims smother out all efforts with a toxic attitude. Attitudes toward life are formed early, and are the hardest thing to overcome if they are not healthy ones. We see them still struggling with self-image but we know they are wonderful people capable of great things. When we see the scabs knocked off before the healing is done, and we see the stoic set of their jaw, we cry their tears for them. And then there’s the ‘wound care’. Though it may seem calloused, we have to debride the unhealthy tissue, and that may be painful as they recognize the actual source of infection is their own refusal to let go. It will also be painful to experience again the original injury as they bring it to the surface, where it can be purged from its viable strength. Once they are forced to own the pain and give it away to God, then they must be encouraged to leave it there. Leave. It. There. Don’t allow them to continue to bring back up what they have longed to put down. Similar to someone with a weight problem staying away from the cookie jar, these dear souls with bad memories must stop going back there to a bad place. Encourage them to search the word of the only One Who truly knows what they’ve endured and having created us, knows best what works for us. What Paul the Apostle said of his goal to serve Christ, is good for us as we work toward our goals – “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize…” (Philippians 3:13b-14a). Paul had caused trauma and suffering for others, as well as suffered many severe hardships himself. He was fully aware of how much we might need to forget.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 That is our house favorite.
So as I wait for all the pain in the world to be healed, and all creation whole once again, I will do what I can for whom I can. It may be only a smile here, a pat on the back there; a hug for those accepting it, a willing ear and a word of encouragement. Let it go, like the movie Frozen taught us. Move on toward taking what you are (…”that whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content” Phil. 4:11) and allowing God to transform and renew you into the best you that you have ever been. And as I watch I will keep my favorite prayers alive for you. Those are found in Isaiah 40:31 (teach me Lord to wait) and Micah 6:8, that you will know all that’s required of you is to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” You don’t have to move the mountain; you may only need to hold God’s hand as he leads you through the pass.
Now, cream or sugar with that cup of coffee? as we put a bandaid on your booboo.