A few days ago I got stung by a yellow jacket. It seems we have had a bit of an infestation and they have been sneaking there way into our house through some crack or cranny for weeks. My sting followed a cowardly attack when I unknowingly grabbed the handle of a bag along with the yellow striped perpetrator. If you’ve ever been stung then you know how the throbbing can last for days. With each pulse of blood in my finger I was reminded of the incident.
Eventually it stopped hurting. In fact I realized just a bit ago it hadn’t given me any pain in about a day. The healing was imperceptible but happening even as the throbbing continued.
Isn’t that how healing works?
Deep work goes on under the skin, and we don’t even perceive it. We feel the ache. It can feel like an open wound but somewhere along the lines we wake up and the hurt, though visibly scarred, has become something you can live with.
There are wounds I bear that continue to ache after years and years of living with them. The scars are emotional. They are the wounds inflicted by experience, circumstance and great loss and at times they have threatened to cripple me entirely.
Over the summer I read book that affected me deeply. Emily Rapp’s memoir, The Still Point of the Turning World, is her account of her young son’s diagnosis and slow death at the hands of a merciless genetic disease known as Tay-Sach’s. Emily’s writing is raw and she asks all the questions about life, death and what it all means in a way that cuts right to the heart. It is clear that she is searching for meaning and though I disagree with some of her conclusions and methods I still found myself resonating with her journey.
In the book she speaks frequently about healing and what it means for her son who carries with him a death sentence. She says,
“Healing (for Ronan) would not mean the radical healing of his physical form. It might mean instead his full acceptance into community, into family, not the fixing of his physical body.”
I read that passage and her words sunk deep in my soul. I don’t think I’ll ever lose the ache of loss. It haunts me in my darkest moments, slinking around corners when I am at my weakest. But I am strongest when I am in community with others who know my scars and accept me as a grace needy sister. Wounds and all.
What I do know is that my husband, my friends, the ones that know and love me best are aware of the ache I carry deep. They cover me with love and that love is strong enough to drive back the pain. The Body of Christs heals itself from the inside out.
The deepest healing we can experience always takes place from the inside out.
My husband and I have a deep desire to see overseas workers cared for well so they can serve well. While serving on the field we observed senior colleagues who had not been abandoned with wounds long neglected. Those wounds were like gangrenous sores. They were in danger of being lost entirely, like an infected limb.
Deep healing needed to take place. The kind which can only begin and end with Jesus. He uses His Body to do the healing. My own healing has come through women who have mothered me, a husband who has led me toward Jesus and friends who have called me out of the pain into wholeness.
My pain has been used to show others hope. I am often left to wonder if that is the greatest healing we can hope for in this life; that God would redeem our pain through the healing of others. We can waste time begging God for answers about the million piece jigsaw puzzle of life or we can put our broken pieces up against another person’s and help them make sense of their place in the picture.
How have others been a part of your healing? How have you entered into someone else’s pain to bring the healing balm of Christ?