On Sunday I taught men in the jail, using Psalms 116:5-7 (ESV), about moving from woundedness to life. I challenged them not to settle for mere comfort when confronting hurt, but to embrace life instead.
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The LORD preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
When hurt and wounded, too often all we can muster is a desire for God’s comfort or soothing presence. Although he’ll sometimes do that, what he really wants is to move us past woundedness into brokenness – that low place where we are willing to surrender to him. Only then can we hope to experience the bountiful life, both in us and around us, that comes from finding and finally doing God’s joyous will.
Many Christians confuse woundedness with brokenness, but they are not the same. Woundedness is hurt and self, while brokenness is surrender and God’s will. The main thing that separates woundedness and brokenness is pride.
Brokenness, as opposed to woundedness, happens when we are finally stripped of our pride – sometimes due to pure exhaustion.
Short of total capitulation from hitting absolute bottom, we typically don’t reach brokenness. Instead, we resist by wrapping our woundedness around us like a cloak of honor. It becomes our old familiar friend and part of our self-sustaining identity. Often, we deceive ourselves into believing that our success at enduring hurt and pain comes from spiritual maturity or strength, when it really comes from numbness and shutting down our heart. Sometimes, we even parade out our “humble” wounds in public as a plea for sympathy and to avoid the changes God wants of us.
Such pride traps us in woundedness.
Pride wants God merely to affirm or sooth us in our pain, while we stay in control. It makes us unwilling to go to the source of the pain, where we hurt the most. That place, however, is where God patiently waits to meet us and heal us – not by merely comforting us, but by fundamentally transforming who we are by changing how we think and what we believe.
We know when we’ve reached brokenness, as opposed to woundedness, when we experience “simple”. Simple happens when we’ve found the core of who God created us to be, with nothing left of our own will to get in the way. At “simple”, we begin discovering who we really are, based on God’s perspective and not our’s, minus the clutter of our own expectations and all of the “ought’s” that we’ve imposed on ourselves and others.
When we get to “simple”, God can begin to remake and transform us into the men and women he uniquely designed us to be.
As I explained in the jail:
- Only at “simple” can we find the core of who we were created to be…
- Only at “simple” can we begin to become complete and whole individuals…
- Only at “simple” can we finally begin to accept God’s will, rather than our own will (however well intended)…
- Only at “simple” can we discover, through him, the unique qualities and desires he created in us and intends for us…
- Only at “simple” can we find bountiful life.
Life, however, can be very scary to a hurting person, because life always involves change and hurting people often lack the energy to embrace change.
Getting to life, as intended by God, requires total capitulation and, in our capitulation, total trust that he won’t leave us vulnerable if we meet him at the source of our pain. If we are willing to trust God by meeting him there in brokenness, and then get to “simple” where we can begin to hear and embrace what he wants to say about who we really are – rather than trying to hold onto who we think we are or we think he wants us to be – life will begin springing up in us and around us.
The process of finding life and refilling our emotional wells may take time – often even years – but our souls will find rest as we finally begin experiencing life as God planned it. After all, it usually takes years for our emotional wells to run dry, and it is rare for them to refill overnight.
The choice is ours: A downward spiral of woundedness producing exhaustion and more hurt, or the renewing spiral of life – as God intended us to live it – which then produces even more life.
I don’t know about you, but I chose – and continue to choose – life.
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