Healing from Spiritual Wounds
During my final semester of undergrad, I took a class on expository preaching. Throughout the semester, my professor would often discuss the importance of storytelling and how our stories and experiences can serve as vehicles to reveal Christ in Scripture. Our stories allow us to connect to listeners so that we may be able to remind them of the Living God whose story continues to unfold before our eyes.
A personal story of loss may connect us to Job. A season of doubt may connect us to the Israelites walking through the desert. Our complicity in oppression may connect us to the rich man who ignored Lazarus.
In all contexts, but especially when it comes to preaching, our stories carry a supernatural unifying power that must be handled with great care and consideration.
Knowing this, my professor instructed us that we should avoid using our stories of pain to teach if we have not yet healed from those wounds. Unhealed stories used to preach or teach often leave listeners with more hurt than guidance because we ourselves are in the midst of profound hurt. One day, our stories will be able to lift wounded souls from their hospital beds, but until we have appropriately worked on our own hurts and allowed God to be with us in that season of healing, our stories should be handled with great care.
I share this because I am coming out of a season of spiritual hurt.
Spiritual hurt is when you experience pain that leaves you discouraged and feeling distant from God and the path that God has been leading you on. This most often occurs as a result from conflict with fellow Christians, especially within relationships with those with religious authority over us.
As someone who already struggles with trust, experiencing this particular type of hurt has made it even more difficult for me to process spiritual leaders as trustworthy, making the process of seeking counsel feel nearly impossible. I have been discouraged from pursuing ministry and as a result, left feeling like a burden to people and to God.
I usually love sharing my story as a way to help others process their own journeys, but right now, that is not something I can do because I need to focus on the work I have before me. At this time I must process, forgive, and let go.
But what does “letting go” mean when I am in the midst of the hurt?
For where I am at, letting go begins by allowing trusted people to speak into my life and lead me to Christ.
I am currently attending a wonderful church with a loving pastor and compassionate congregation. For me, healing means stepping foot in church whenever I can, becoming a part of a safe community and allowing myself to be loved instead of forcing myself to be present for others in ways that are simply not possible right now.
It has been vital for me to find a community where I feel a sense of belonging to so that I can be honest with those who minister to me. I have found a safe space to express my doubts and hurts and where I am encouraged seek support.
It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much I had been keeping from those who want to love me. I thought I was fine and that I didn’t need to have a whole “come to Jesus” moment to get me through a hard spiritual season. The truth is that I told myself I was healed in order to cope with feelings of disappointment and rejection. I needed to be vulnerable about the distress I experienced in order to begin moving forward constructively.
So healing doesn’t mean keeping quiet until you’re ready to talk. Truthfully, we may never be ready to address significant pain. I think that the work of healing is in understanding which contexts are appropriate for exploring your pain.
As my professor suggested to our class my senior year of college, I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to share my wounds as a vehicle for wisdom because I cannot currently view my wounds in hindsight. At the same time, it is necessary to share my wounds in contexts where I am completely loved, trusted, and cared for so that someone else may be able to guide me and replenish my spirit.
Our stories are powerful and must be handled with care. Speaking publicly from a place of hurt does not often produce constructive change in others. Allow yourself the time to heal. Once you are restored, you will be much better equipped to be a vehicle of restoration.