I want to share a story with you. A true story. One that is very moving but extremely disturbing, yet, needs to be heard. A story that is very relevant to your life and mine. This story is about wounds. Tremendous wounds.
But before I show you the story, I want to talk for a moment, about wounds; very delicate afflictions that come in many variations. Physical, emotional, mental, etc.
Physical wounds can be shallow, surface wounds that don’t take much attention to heal. Cover them with a bandaid and go about your business. You don’t notice them much and after a couple of days, they’re gone. Deep, gaping wounds are a different matter. Acquired through injury or even surgery, these wounds take much longer to heal and require specialized and, at times, longterm treatment. These wounds, if not handled according to doctors orders, can become infected and cause even death if not treated immediately.
In fact, I knew of a case where an infection set in from a wound on the foot. It became infected and without treatment, caused infection in the blood resulting in death! A very sudden and unexpected death.
Emotional wounds in the soul can be very similar to physical wounds in the body. A big difference is you can carry emotional wounds for a longer period of time before infection or death set in. But the consequences can be just as detrimental.
Our life experiences carry with them the possibility of giving us great joy or wounding us deeply. That wounding can happen at a very young age when our minds and hearts are vulnerable. At times, when we recall these memories, they can still feel as raw at that moment as they were when they happened. But more often than not, those emotions are tucked away in the back of our consciousness. One reason for this is that some of us experience wounds so severe, that our little minds are incapable of processing the impact and so we have a “fail-safe” of sorts in order to survive.
Yet, a day of reckoning comes when those emotions demand to be heard and released. If we, as adults, keep trying to stuff them, they will find their way to be heard and sometimes in very dysfunctional, damaging ways.
Have you ever experienced an emotional “trigger”? This happens when you have an experience or human interaction much like your original wound and you react to that person or situation in fear, anger or rage. It’s much like a wounded animal. When you touch the wound, they attack or run. We, humans, can do the same thing when our emotional wounds are touched. [Here’s where the story comes in that I mentioned at the beginning.]
Recently, I came upon the story of “the girl in the closet” that illustrates this point.[WARNING: this story is very disturbing, so proceed with caution.] The horrific story of Lauren Kavanaugh, who beginning at two years old was locked in a closet, barely fed or interacted with except to be sexually tortured, for a period of six years! Six years!!! Within those six years, she was wounded beyond comprehension and developed very specific ways of surviving. Which manifested even after she was safe.
One such incident from her story: The Dallas Morning News 2001
“She didn’t always like to be touched and preferred to suffer in solitude after medical procedures. When nurses would try to soothe her, she’d flinch.”
Lauren had developed so many emotional wounds during her captivity, that she could only respond in ways that she’d been conditioned to or in order to protect herself and rightfully so. Torture is all she had ever known. One might look at her reaction to this incident in the hospital as bizarre if they didn’t know her story, but in light of all that she’d been through, it was very appropriate. I wonder how many others we interact with are acting out of their wounds and we feel it’s bizarre, but may be very appropriate if we knew their stories?
Lauren has had a long hard road to recovery, and although she still faces many obstacles, she’s progressed well beyond the limitations that were predicted for her situation. There is hope in her story and for all of us who have experienced deep emotional wounds.
Why do I share this story? For many reasons, but the main two are (1) To bring awareness of the countless wounded people in our world, maybe in our own families who in turn, wound others or even themselves and (2) To know there is hope for the deepest wounds.
Lauren’s physical wounds were evident, shining for all the world to see, but her emotional wounds went even deeper and were just as visible at times. Wounds that to this day, she is still overcoming. For many of us, emotional wounds exist that, a lot of times, we aren’t even aware of but they manifest as fear, shame, anxiety, depression, isolating, violence and crime and what others might call bizarre behavior, etc.
Mistreatment and abuse impacts people in many ways, with consequences that become rooted in entire families, communities, and nations. I believe these emotional, spiritual wounds are our deepest problems in the United States and these are what we battle on a daily basis. Not politicians or policies, they are simply manifestations of the emotional ills of our country. Each individual vying for his/her own personal freedom from the depths of his/her own personal wounds or those they’ve seen inflicted on loved ones and their community. These wounds are far-reaching, touching even to the economic and social realms of our individual lives.
And in an effort to survive, combat and not re-experience those abuses, we fight. We war for our rights and those of others. Wounded and scared. As with the story of Lauren Kavanaugh, we can’t imagine the half of what people have been through and are currently enduring in their lives. We must stop judging and start waking up!
Our world is in tremendous pain.
Deep wounds that will not heal overnight. Maybe not for decades. That is why the Gospel is so vital to the future of every individual and our nation. There is only one Healer of the soul and that is Jesus Christ. One Peacemaker. One Advocate. One Comforter. One Mightier Who can slay the giants and the bad guys! His name is Jesus.
The Wounded One. Yes, Jesus suffered wounds. He understands where we are if we’ve been wounded in any way.
Read Isaiah 53: 3-7 to see His wounds!
We must be about His story! His way of life with others. His solutions. The world’s psychology, philosophy, and systems or politics can’t touch what ails the human race.
Colossians 2: 8-10
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. [My emphasis]
Only God’s love and redemption can heal our land. Let’s pray for the wounded in our families, communities and in those who lead us. Because they, too, have their own wounds they are navigating through, so we must pray they be healed so they can govern in love, mercy, and justice.
May Christ Be Glorified in All!