I suffered a dreadful wound at the Laundromat two weeks ago. I was viciously attacked my by one of the washers. In a simple act of loading in my clothes, I somehow received a huge gash in the top of my finger, deep and painful and immediately bloody. I put a band-aid on it and washed it when I got home, and did a stint or two with antibacterial ointment; but often that seems to keep my cuts from closing quickly, so after a day or two I just let it close up and scab over.
That seemed fine until the area appeared not to be healing normally. The area remained red and swollen and itchy and painful to the touch, and I seemed to keep bumping it more than usual and every bump really hurt. It seemed to be infected underneath a solid not-normal scab. I tried peroxide topically and the fizz seemed to confirm infection, but the closed-over not-scab was far too painful to remove even after prolonged soaking. I decided I was just going to have to wait while it slowly, slowly healed itself, enduring the extra pain and longer recovery time. It’s still healing and still very sore and occasionally I still bump it and sustain extra pain that should have been gone by now. Yesterday I explained this episode to my friend Amy and she informed me that I should have cared for the wound more carefully and consistently while it was in the beginning stages of healing, instead of letting it close up without proper cleansing. I told her I’d given it a few bouts with peroxide and a go or two with the antibacterial ointment, and clearly had not realized the depth of the contamination, but she shook her head reproachfully and looked at me scoldingly, as if to say, “You know better. You can’t not take care of it and expect it to heal properly.”
I suffered a dreadful wound somewhere in my youth; I can’t even tell you how. I was viciously attacked by the brokenness of this world and the forces of the enemy. Somehow, in the act of being born and growing up, I received a deep and painful gash in my heart. The problem was, unlike my finger, it wasn’t immediately bloody and I didn’t really notice it in time to care for it properly. I don’t even think I would have known how to then, because I believe the problem had to do with me taking care of other people at an age when I should have been cared for, myself. I wasn’t prepared, as a child, to properly care for others, much less did I possess the understanding about deep wounds and how they need to heal. I don’t seem to have caught it in time to let it heal clean.
In the same way we always manage bump the place that’s injured, I seem to have periodically rammed the wounded area of my soul. Every time I bump it, it throbs violently. The last time I noticed the area in my heart seemed red and swollen, I tried a little topical treatment—nothing major. It swelled up worse than ever. Then, like a natural wound, I tried picking off the scab, thinking if I could get off the outer layers maybe it would heal cleaner. The poison must have been very deep, because it only ached all the harder, and then it seemed that not only I, but others were bumping into it. In fact, it seemed to become a target. A wound that had slumbered in almost-obscurity for years suddenly seemed to gush, and fester, and, like sharks to blood, the enemy got in every kick possible to the tender place, and added insult to injury.
I don’t have a very tidy finish to this story. The place on my finger is healing, but it still itches and it’s still red and angry looking, and it still hurts a lot when I bump it.
The place in my heart isn’t all better yet, either. I’m not a little girl anymore; I’ve learned a lot more about taking care of a wound since the time I got it. I’ve been asking God to do His version of peroxide—who knew truth and repentance could sting so badly and so deeply and yet feel so good? I’ve applied antibacterial ointment to it—I know it’s a cheesy analogy but if you think about it, forgiveness is a lot like Neosporin—it keeps the broken parts from becoming septic and festering. Still, it’s an old wound and the poison has been in there for a long time, and it still hurts like hell when I bump it—or when someone else bumps me and the pain reminds me it’s there.
I don’t know why this particular gash is taking so long to heal. Maybe I’m not healthy enough or I need more vitamins. I don’t know why something I’ve prayed about so much is still there—maybe there’s some blindingly obvious obedience thing that I’m missing, or maybe it’s just one of those things. As much as I hate it, I know God often does His deepest work slowly, and this is deep. And I think, like my pseudo-scab, sometimes these things take so long to finally heal because even though we want to just rip them open and be rid of them, even touching the edges is so wrenchingly painful that we just end up waiting and go little by little instead.
Like I said, I know it’s an obvious, cheesy analogy. But as I sat around tonight picking at both my wounds, I felt like I had to write it.
I’ll let you know when it’s all healed up.