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  • Writer's picture Brian E Pearson

What is Your Wound?

We're all wounded. Somewhere along the way, but most likely very early on, we've been hurt by life, or disappointed, or frightened, or abused, and it's blocking our way. The Unknown Path cannot open for us until we acknowledge our wounds.

from Project:Yourself

It hasn't always been very effective, but Christians have made a habit of confession. We don't come to the altar until we've cleared our conscience of all the ways we've failed God, failed one another, and failed ourselves. It's supposed to open a haling frequency between ourselves and God, and between us and our neighbours, so we can get back on track, freed by God's forgiveness.

It's a good idea. But it's only half the picture. The other half is that we ourselves have been failed. The times no one defended us, or supported us, when life got cruel and nasty. The times we were left feeling vulnerable, scared and alone. That pain shows up every time we retreat, in fear, or assert ourselves, for control. Whether or not we know what we're doing, we protest our hurt, and we protect ourselves from ever getting hurt again. Who, then, we might ask, should be confessing to us?

This is not to blame others for the difficulties in our lives. Nor is it to seek the world's pity. It's just saying, "I'm hurt," so that I might begin to heal. It's a way to stop us from compulsively licking our wounds, or hiding them away, allowing them to fester and to tug at us from the depths. It allows us to move on, and make new, life-giving choices.

Unacknowledged wounds turn the Unknown Path into a well-worn track, created by our return, again and again, to the scene of the crime. We cannot possibly move forward if we keep circling back. It means that, if we were once victims, we remain victims, pathologically tied to our wounds. It's the reason children of alcoholic parents so often choose as a mate someone who shares that same addiction.

Unacknowledged wounds carry another risk, as well. If our wounds become our unconscious drivers, it is likely we will wound others, the abused becoming the abuser. Misery loves company, but who needs company like that? We acknowledge our wounds so that the world is not wounded once again--by us! We acknowledge our wounds so that we might become, instead, the world's healers, "wounded healers," as Henri Nouwen put it.

The Unknown Path is formed by the work we must do in order to name and to address our wounds. This is soul work, which we'll get to. But first, what sorts of wounds are we talking about? What are their names?

Next Week: Naming our Wounds

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