“How’s your soul?” I ask my people this question a lot.
I want to approach this subject with an honest moment right up front: This is big. Bigger than a blog post and bigger than me. I have been trying to write this for days. I keep sitting in front of my computer in tears because I know so many who are hurting. Like earth-shattering, “What do I do now?” kind of hurting.
We need to begin with a couple of definitions because there is a difference between suffering and walking wounded.
Suffering– the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. (Dictionary.com)
Walking Wounded– people who have been injured in a battle or major accident but who are still able to walk. People who have suffered emotional wounds. (Dictionary.com)
Suffering is present tense, it is something you are currently facing. I know people facing rape, death, suicide, alcoholism, and financial collapse. If you’re in the middle of a time of suffering, please understand: No one should be pressuring you to grieve or move on in a hurry. Sit, process, feel, and heal in your time. It is a process and it isn’t over until it is. The Bible is clear about mourning. In fact, Ecclesiastes 7:2-4 (NIV) says,
“It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart.
Frustration is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.”
Walking wounded is about pain that happened in past tense. For this post, we are going to be talking about emotional wounds that have kept us bound and walking with a limp. These are things that we have gotten so used to that we will even adjust the way we walk to avoid feeling the pain.
Here are four things you need to know about walking wounded:
- We have all been wounded.
Some of you have already decided that this post isn’t for you. This IS NOT for you if the following things are true for you, all the time, with complete confidence:
- That you live in hope. Any thought not rooted in hope is a lie.
- The impossible seems reasonable and you expect God to do miracles.
- You live in peace, don’t worry, and speculations are positive.
- You like yourself and rejoice in your weakness knowing where you’re weak, He is strong.
- You’re quick to forgive, freely give others grace and mercy, and don’t hold offense.
- You’re confident and thankful.
- You believe in others and give them the benefit of the doubt.
*(List by Kris Valloton)
Still not for you? I don’t know one person whose life exhibits everything on this list. And I know some pretty amazing people! This is the goal for all of us but there is soul work to be done in order to get there.
We aren’t exempt from pain. The moment that sin entered our world, darkness, death and trouble came with it. Jesus said in John 16:33, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” He doesn’t mess around with this: YOU WILL have pain.
- We have to acknowledge our pain before we can heal from it.
JM and I were headed for divorce and definitely weren’t going to be in ministry long without some help. We went to counseling and conferences about emotional healing and learned that we had permission to feel pain. It also allowed us to realize that God wasn’t oblivious to what happened to us. He witnessed it and had things to say about it.
Imagine getting a cut on the bottom of your foot. Your foot sends a signal to your brain that something happened. And then comes the, “Ouch!” You have to nurse the wound and might possibly have a limp until it heals.
The problem with emotional wounds is that you don’t see them physically. They are under the surface and tear up our souls. They hurt and cause us to limp around spiritually. Healing emotionally is not as easy as putting a band-aid on a scratch. Wounds can come from our choices, other people’s choices, or the enemy. Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t heal from what you won’t feel?” A lot of people get stuck right here. Some people just don’t want to acknowledging their pain. Others make it their identity.
There’s a fine line between an overindulgence of self-pity and healthily dealing with pain. Processing feelings, unpacking baggage, and digging deep into our souls is necessary for us to be healed. I think what happens for many people is they (with good intention) don’t want to speak or even think negatively about someone they value who might have hurt them. Instead, they brush things under the rug and think, “What good would come in bringing up their past mistakes?” Some think the pain will eventually go away but, in reality, it grows and begins to create a gravitational pull. It’s like cancer. It just gets bigger and makes us sick. Bottom line: Pain does not go away with time.
- Forgiveness sets us free.
Freedom is a real, attainable thing. It’s an ongoing process but the Bible says that Christ set us free. It wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t possible. Part of that process is through forgiveness. The following is a quote from a conference I went to, “Forgiveness is God’s gift to set you free from satan’s strategy to keep you from loving. It allows you to love in the face of real pain and real evil.
Forgiveness is not:
- Denial (pretending it’s ok)
- Repression (burying the hurt caused by sin)
- Letting the offender off the hook
- Forgetting (you don’t have to be in relationship with that person)
- Being a doormat”
*(Taken from Kairos manual)
Forgiveness releases us from thinking that we need to have power in the situation. It kills our need for retaliation and it allows God’s will to be done. You probably have a list of people you need to forgive, you may even need to forgive yourself.
“But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.”
Isa 53:5 (NLT)
Jesus paid for our freedom. Please, please, please do not get comfortable walking with a limp. Your pain is not your identity. That is not the life Jesus died for you to live. Don’t perpetuate the cycle of wounding by neglecting your pain. Yes, you might have to face some things you’d rather avoid, but I promise you it will be worth it.
- Healing gives you grace for others.
Once we are brave enough to acknowledge our wounding and forgive those who’ve wronged us, we begin to see that our offenders were just operating out of their own wounds. It’s a cycle and it has to be broken. Hurt people, hurt people. You may not even realize it but your pain is coming out in your words and actions.
When you can walk without nursing your pain, your eyes naturally move up towards other people. You’ll start to see their limps and be moved with compassion for them. What if healed people, heal people? I think that’s part of our job as His image bearers. Every single person who asked Jesus to heal them, walked away healed and whole.
I am passionate about this because JM and I were such a broken mess. We didn’t need one more person to tell us that we were free. We very much weren’t free and knew it. We wanted to be free, and knew Jesus was capable of setting us free. We just needed to do the soul work and didn’t know where to start. Start here, friends: Release those who’ve hurt you and bless them.
- Realize that everyone has been hurt. That’s just a consequence of doing life with people.
- Be brave, be honest, acknowledge your wounds. You’re going to be ok.
- Get alone with Jesus, forgive everyone that has hurt you, and forgive yourself.
- Have grace for people.
- Tell your story.
- Extra credit: take an emotional intelligence quiz. https://globalleadershipfoundation.com/geit/eitest.html
I’m praying for you and know that Jesus is going to be kind to you as you navigate your soul.
You are so deeply loved,