I remember when I was little, I loved being told stories of family history, as far back as the storyteller could remember. And one of the cautionary tales that still sticks with me was the story of the great great (great?) grandpa who stepped on a piece of scrap metal and ignored the wound. Not only did he ignore it, though. He hid its existence from his family and friends. He didn’t go to get it examined by a doctor. He had other things to take care of, other responsibilities that were, in his view, more important than being healed.
And so, the wound became infected. And the infection got worse. And he could no longer do those things he’d deemed “more important.” And by the time anyone else even knew he’d been injured, it was too late.
Now, I may be combining and misremembering parts of the story here. And I don’t remember whether the story ended with death or amputation. But the act remains that hiding our wounds can be deadly. And not only physical wounds, but mental, emotional, and spiritual wounds, too.
We’re often tempted to hide the less than perfect parts of our lives we’d rather not share with others. We fear that our woundedness, if shared, may become a burden, that we may be seen as less, that if others knew the weight we carry, their love for us would diminish. Or worse, they might react in a way that only deepens our wound.
To be completely honest, with our friends, family, and any other imperfect human beings, some of that fear may be valid. Sometimes our experiences of flawed love teach us to hide our wounded hearts, our broken parts, our need for a love deeper than anything this world can offer.
But God will not love us any less for sharing our burdens with Him. He can’t love us any less. He already knows our wounds and how deeply they affect us long before we’re able to acknowledge them. He knows our fears, our doubts, our longing to be held by a father we never knew. He sees how many times we’ve tried to bandage our gushing, broken hearts. Every one of our tears He counts as a precious jewel, stored in the vaults of Heaven, to be one day added to our crowns.
He knows. He knows us.
He longs for us to open our broken hearts to Him, the Divine Physician, the only One who offers true healing, the only One who can restore our souls.
I’m often tempted to cling to my heart when He tries to examine it. I cling to my fears when He offers me freedom. I cling to my anger and resentment when He offers me joy. I try to cover up the broken, shattered pieces of my life so that He can’t see the mess I’ve made of the gifts He’s given me.
“Do you want to be healed?”
As we work through certain wounds, I sometimes tell God that if healing hurts so much, it seems like it would be easier to remain broken. He reminds me that easier isn’t better. What seems easier now allows for the infection to enter in, to spread throughout the whole body, and in this case, the whole soul.
“Do you want to be healed?”
And the thing is, true healing is inconvenient. It takes time. In this life it’s never perfectly complete. It means diving into uncomfortable realities I’d rather not face, truths I’d prefer to be unspoken. It means probing deep into that festering wound until everything dead, everything painful, everything that could cause continuing problems, is scraped away and only what is good remains. It means taking time away from other things to change the bandage at the proper times.
It means keeping up an ongoing relationship with the Physician. It involves obedience in following His instructions and docility in letting Him work on the wound, letting Him work deeply. It requires honesty in facing that sometimes I don’t want to be healed. It requires patience with myself, with my own abilities, with the way others perceive (or fail to perceive) my wounds, my limitations, and my progress.
It might even mean reopening, reexamining a wound I thought was healed. It might mean starting to try again at the beginning of this long and painful process.
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-za′tha, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.”
And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked.
– John 5:2-9
He is waiting to heal us. Yes, He knows our wounds. Yes, He sees our pain. But He’s waiting for us to be ready and willing participants in the healing He offers. He won’t heal a wound we hide. He won’t force us to undergo treatment we’ve refused. Do we really want to be healed? Are we willing to humble ourselves to be open and honest about where we need healing? Will we open our hearts to let God show us where He sees our greatest need, our deepest wound?
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.