Many years ago while in graduate school I read the book The Wounded Healer, by Henri Nouwen. That book forever changed my life as I was learning to deal with wounds of my life. I recently read a quote from that book that reminded me once again of the importance of recognizing that we all have wounds which continue to shape our lives. Here is the quote:
“Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.”
Although no one escapes being wounded in life, some have been wounded more deeply than others. And those wounds continue to shape our lives either as a means of healing for others or a source of pain, shame and embarrassment for us as we continue to try hiding or denying them.
You may have been wounded physically, emotionally, mentally, sexually, or spiritually while growing up. An adult took advantage of your vulnerability and wounded you instead of protecting and caring for you. Now you are an adult and the effects of those wounds are shaping your life for better or for worse.
The pain and the depth of the wound varies from person to person. But no wound should be treated lightly if you want to step out of the shadow of your wounds and take action which leads to the healing of the wounds. Failing to face and deal with the pain is to continue to allow the person(s) who wounded you to continue to hurt you and have control over you.
I recall my own journey of recovery from wounds inflicted on me as a child. To this day I have clear memories of the physical, verbal, sexual and emotional abuse I received from those who were supposed to be caring for and protecting me as a child.
I lived with those wounds for many years, allowing them to influence my life in some unhealthy and destructive ways. In the process I did damage to my loved ones, my career and my witness for God.
This began to change when rather than allowing them to continue to reap havoc in my life, I decided to face my wounds, deal with them and start using them to bring healing to others.
Now as I remember my wounds, they are no longer a source of pain and shame nor a stumbling block in my life. Instead I use my stories of woundedness as stepping stones to offer healing and hope to others. I am neither ashamed nor embarrassed by my woundedness. Today I continue to learn how to be a wounded healer.
Some of the effects of being wounded are distrust of others, insecurities, low self-esteem, living in a perpetual state of anger, feeling the need to please others to the neglect of your well-being, needing approval from those around you. The list goes on as the signs of past wounds still shape your life in negative ways.
However, if you are able to share the stories of your woundedness appropriately as a means of offering healing to others and not as a means of seeking sympathy, or as an expression of anger, it is a sign that you have been facing and dealing with your woundedness. You have decided, as did I, to take back control for your life from those who wounded you, and be responsible for your life.
It is not a question of if you have been wounded, but how your wounds are shaping your life? Have you faced and dealt with the wounds in your life? Are they now serving you as a means of helping others, or are you still living in shame, pain and embarrassment of them? Is your life still being controlled by those who wounded you?
The process of moving from shame and embarrassment to wounded healer is slow and often painful. But the reward of freedom from the pain of those wounds is truly worth it.
Why not decide today to put an end to the control those who wounded you continue to hold over your life. Make a conscious decision to start facing and dealing with wounds of your past that continue to shape your life in so many unhealthy ways.
There is freedom and healing when you consciously choose to face and deal with those wounds. I know, because I have been there, done that.
Next week we will explore how to pursue healing for your wounds.
If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.