Every Thursday I’ll post an article having to do with either relational or emotional matters. Hope it helps.
The Convenient Wound
When my youngest son Jeremy was about five, he enjoyed jumping off the steps of our stairway. He’d go up one step, jump to the floor, then go up two steps, jump again, and so forth, often working his way up to five or six steps, which was no small feat for a five year old. Renee forbade this sort of thing, of course, so it was only done when Dad was home and Mom was gone, Dad cheering the kid on while swearing him to secrecy.
One afternoon Jeremy was playing the jump game when he landed wrong and twisted his ankle. His scream said it was pretty painful, so I scooped him up, laid him out on the couch, and iced the swollen area. Within an hour he was OK, asking me to play ball with him in the back yard, so we tossed a football for a bit. Then it was time for him to go upstairs and do some reading per our regular schedule.
“Daddy my ankle hurts so bad!”, he suddenly whined, pointing to his left foot, then remembering it was his right that he’d twisted. “I meant this one”, he assured me, then sighed in deep pain. “I don’t think I can go back up the stairs.”
Convenient, but not convincing. When he wanted to play, his ankle was fine. But when something he didn’t want to do was being required of him, the ankle became a way out. I couldn’t help but admire the effort, while thinking of the number of people I knew who were guilty of the same manipulation.
Everyone is wounded, to a point. We’ve all endured emotional injuries from someone who should have known better but hurt us nonetheless. Some of our wounds are, in retrospect, not too significant. But some still fester. Some memories still induce pain; some situations bring up dark images we’d rather be rid of but can’t seem to banish. Those are significant wounds, some of which keep healing, some of which we simply learn to live with. Either way, we tend to choose between managing them properly, or using them as excuses when life requires something from us we’d rather avoid.
The man who blames his overbearing mother for his pattern of mistrusting and mistreating women has a legitimate beef. Mom should have backed off; childhood was probably pretty rough. He’s wounded, for sure, but when his wound is held up as an excuse for misogyny and prolonged boyhood, he’s conveniently using the wound rather than working around it. As is the woman who swims in melancholy, avoiding personal responsibilities like work and commitment, citing her cruel father as the cause of her inaction. She was dealt a terrible hand and deserves compassion and support, but not a pass on life chores we all have to face. Wounds are meant to be dressed and healed, after all. They’re not permission slips entitling us to live in perpetual victimhood.
Nothing in the gospels suggest a Jesus indifferent to human pain. In fact, His pubic ministry was launched with an affirmation that He was sent to heal the brokenhearted. So let’s not neglect wounds that need attending. Let’s admit them, submit them for whatever treatment is need, and yes, even grieve them and the needless wrongdoings that created them.
But let’s not it leave it there, because part of the wonder of life in Christ is His ability to restore us, strengthen our resolve, and lead us into lives fruitful and victorious, wounds notwithstanding. And like Peter, walking on water when no other option seemed available, we learn we can walk, run and jump off stair-steps, wounds and all.