Keep the struggles and suffering,
Behind others’ eyes,
Ever before you,
Such that your own,
Are healed by God—
Our God who makes all things new.
The motive for the wounded healer is simple. They are ever thankful for the recognition of pain in others’ lives—a pain they must connect with. Beneath others’ pain reveals the pain of the wounded healer; a pain they’ve learned to embrace.
As the suffering of the world is kept firmly in mind, as is represented by what fallible human beings see within their flawed perceptions, the wounded healer understands. They understand the skewed, hypercritical and self-critical views. They know the hurt heart is behind such views. Compassion is their response.
Why The World Needs Wounded Healers
Most of the people that are attracted to pastoral positions have some aspects of the wounded healer compelling them to minister God’s love to a hurting humanity. But this fact can present problems.
The paradox is, who needs who? Is the minister in ministry for others or for themselves? It’s so often both. But their own suffering keeps them engaged with others’ suffering. Sufficient self-work will mean their capacity for others operates freely.
Because the world is so full of suffering, there will always be a need for genuinely inspired wounded healers; those that have trained themselves to put themselves sufficiently in the background, without neglecting themselves, so they can be of useful, loving service. Indeed, the best wounded healers are masters of self-care.
Going The Distance
With an awareness of their and others’ suffering ever before them, the wounded healer has the capacity to journey with someone in a tumultuous circumstance. There is no rhetoric; no fancy words. Distasteful things are tolerated. And tensions of anxiety are absorbed.
To go the distance with the needy requires the special ingredient of patience; to hold every sense of inner panic with the poise, given by God, which is beyond understanding, to see the situation through. Holding such moments of confused terror are impossible without faith in God.
Going the distance, often against every visceral impulse, is the job of the wounded healer. They inspire hope by simply doing what can be done, by being there, by being open to what is required, and to perceive the spiritual need, however impossible that seems as a possibility for discernment to the external observer.
The wounded healer is compelled to help because they see suffering. They see struggle, because their lives resemble struggle. Ever connected and, therefore, in tune with hurting hearts, they know what’s needed. It seems strange: they embrace truth, hope, and joy through suffering. Through suffering they are infinitely able to love.
It’s God’s will that we nurture the wounded healer in each of us, and especially that we grow our capacity to be available, in love, for others’ suffering.
Anyone who has suffered qualifies as a potential wounded healer. Indeed, in this way we connect purpose with our suffering in our helping others.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.