Our wounded self shapes our lives in big ways.
By wounded I mean bruised and hurt by circumstances (often out of our control). And going as far back as the womb and encompassing everything from genetic predisposition to abuse and hardship.
Wounds are inevitable. Though perhaps the more tragic ones are preventable.
Wounds burrow deep into our marrow and deep into our sense of self.
Every hurt leaves a scar…every hurt leaves a memory.
Every hurt molds our thoughts and attitudes and expectations. And consequently many choices we make and lifestyles we create arise from the pain of our wounds.
In an attempt to satiate this pain, or foolishly attempt to cover it up, we might choose certain jobs and careers, or a particular life-partner or friend or community. Even our choices in clothing and vehicles and homes can be the result, in some way, of the wound(s) we carry inside.
I must mention that some wounds are traumatic and lead to despondency and misfortune. We find those survivors on our streets, or filling our prisons, or separated in a hospital ward or managing life using some manner of medication.
Saying that, and not wishing to deny such deep wounding, there is hope for each of us. We can make different choices that move beyond the effects of our wounds.
If you don’t like where you are in life,
or if you want more from where you are in life,
or are in any way feeling empty, sad, angry, or confused (which most of are to some degree and at various points in our life), we will find that the only way out is through connecting to the wound and changing the thoughts, attitudes, and expectations created by it.
As a pastor I must add that when we pray for healing we do not pray for changed circumstance but pray to enter the wound that gives reason for the circumstance.
It is only in healing from the inside that circumstance externally changes. And it is only entering this scary place of hurt that there is any hope for change. Any other renewal process fails. I will say more about this in part 2 (next month).
Unfortunately wounds left unattended will continue to mold our lives…and not for the better. When wounds mold us we can become self-absorbed, seeing most everything and, quite possibly, most everyone as a means to an end. This ‘end’ being the alleviation of our pain.
Its not that we consciously act in this ‘egocentric’ manner, but our wounds are just that, wounds. And all wounds need a balm. Getting this balm can feel like the point of our lives and we seek it in the subtlest of ways. Sometimes this process is hidden even to us.
We can become entwined in a complex set of circumstances, that took years to build, only to find that, though initially satisfying, latter turns to a miserable and complicated mess. Ask anyone who has been married a few times, or has found his or her career less then expected (and needed), or the person who can’t stop crying or getting angry no matter how comforting and affirming their support system is.
As I see it, we are all on a journey towards greater wholeness and health. Some choices enhance this. Some choices don’t. We do our best with what we know and the resources available to us.
Wounds are not bad. They just are. And our wounds have their place in who we are and who we will become. Rumi tells us that wounds are “the place the light shines in.”
However, aside the good graces of God at work through our woundedness, leading us, we hope, to greater compassion and wisdom, unredeemed wounds can limit our potential. And In part 2 of this article I would like to share some ideas on how we might move beyond our wounds and to start living into choices that are more authentically ours, free of the trappings from our past.