The Wounded Healer

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‘In our own woundedness, we can become a source of life for others’.

I’ve been reminded of Henri Nouwen’s ‘Wounded Healer’ several times recently….

We have high expectations, hopes and dreams, We must have success, independence, popularity, financial security and self-confidence. We need to get a good job, be an exemplary parent, be a faithful Christian, run a happy home and be proud of our achievements.

But our experience of life doesn’t meet these expectations. We get hurt; if we’re not broken we’re badly damaged. Sometimes we bring it on ourselves, sometimes somebody does it to us, sometimes it just happens.

Nobody escapes. We’re all wounded people… physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually.

Our wounds make us feel embarrassed, ashamed, angry or resentful. Some present a loud and aggressive front, others retreat and hide.

One of my greatest realisations in recent years is that our greatest weaknesses are also our greatest strengths. Our wounds are not a source of shame or an excuse for doing nothing. They’re part of who we are and can be a source of healing to others.

The recovering alcoholic works at the addicts centre; the woman who used to be embarrassingly overweight leads the Slimming World Group.

Only those who’ve been in the pit can really understand its darkness, stench, and the pain caused when repeated attempts to escape fail.

Those who have experienced bereavement, divorce, deep depression, life changing surgery, destructive gossip, racial discrimination, homophobia, …can use their experience to have true empathy and give help and support those who are where they have been.

Jesus’ story of ‘The Good Samaritan’ tells of man beaten up and left helpless and wounded beside the road. A priest and a Levite – good, moral, religious, upright men see him – but ignore him.

The Samaritan comes. He’s known what it is to be alone, hated, rejected, discriminated against. In tending the man’s wounds, he becomes the wounded healer.

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