Band-Aids for Bullet Holes

heart with bandaidIt can cover the wound and leave the victim thinking they are okay especially if well-meaning people comment on the capacity of the Band-Aid to hide the wound.  “You must be better now, right?” “Don’t worry you will get over it” or “it happens to all of us you’ll learn to cope.”  As ridiculous as this sounds, we do the same thing to (for) people on a regular basis when they have received a wound to the heart.  Our positive words don’t make up for or erase the wound and its potential consequences.

Because it isn’t a healed wound, with only a scar to tell the story, it impacts how we deal with life.  It hurts so we do what we can to feel better or compensate for the fact that our heart is slowly bleeding out our life’s energy and spirit.

It’s called “self-medicating”, “a coping mechanism”, or “baggage” but whatever you call it, it alters your future and puts you off the path your life could have taken.  Life is challenging and perpetual bleeding drains one of the capacities to meet those challenges.

Addictions, alternative lifestyles, hoarders, isolationists, and serial killers all have past wounds to thank for their current behavior.  Is it an excuse for their behavior?  No, it is an explanation for their behavior and helps one get to the point where you can find the wounds and help them deal with it.

One of the challenges with wounds is that the wounded person has to want to have the wound cleaned out, kept clean and receive help if needed. You can’t force a cure for a heart wound like you can with a physical wound.  Unfortunately people can become comfortable with their way of coping with it and never accept the help they need or take the actions they need to for healing.

There are new examples every day of people who have been wounded and, once it has festered sufficiently, take out their rage, pain, and vengeance on an innocent public.  We need to understand the real issues of a wounded heart and how to facilitate the healing and strength that can come after a wound.  If we don’t, our future will have a growing experience in the rage, pain, and vengeance of a people wounded and not treated.

From the school shootings that make the headlines, to the generational sex offenders, to the wife beaters who first watched their mom being beaten, these are wounds that are showing themselves in the actions of the injured but not treated person; someone who got a Band-Aid for a bullet hole.

I ran across an article, years ago in a nature book Marvels & Mysteries of Our Animal World, about the tiger from page 119, “Those who know tigers best, shikaris like Rao Naidu, Vidya Shukla and Bobby Kooka, believe that the magnificent cat wants to ignore man—is, in fact, afraid of him.  A well-known taxidermist of Mysore who collects the skulls of man-eaters told me that, without exception, all of his man-eaters had been wounded, or were crippled or badly incapacitated by old age; of his 50-odd skulls, 40 carried severe bullet wounds.  He believes that most man-eaters are man-made.”

Here was the interesting part “previous head wound”.  They don’t start out that way but due to wounds from the past end up that way.  See any parallel?

Let’s get serious about dealing with the wounds we receive in life. Equipping people to deal with the wounds of life can be complicated until we realize that what we already know about the physical wounds of life also applies to the heart of individuals.

There are some Physical Principles we all know that apply here:Image
1.  Clean it out
2.  Keep it clean
3.  If it is bigger than what you can do by yourself, get some help.

We all have scars.  They are stories we can usually talk about and often laugh at now because they are healed wounds. In each setting someone took the time to walk through the three stages that enable the healing and the ultimate scar.

Without treatment a festering wound can lead to some serious problems.  Our emotional heart is no different.  If it is wounded we need to go through the same process or we end up with the same festering and altered life styles.

1.  Clean it Out 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

2.  Keep it Clean Matthew 5:43-47 brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” “You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?  Do not even pagans do that?”

3.  Bigger than what you can do, get some help.  Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

PROBLEM #1 Resistance

I remember how hard it was to get our kids to pull out the slivers they picked up on a periodic basis.  We had a tree fort in the back and other wooden things that were the source.  They would try and hide it from us because they didn’t want to have to deal with the pain that removing the sliver often brought.

They fought it every time until I told them the story of the three- fingered man I met one night after church.  As I shook his hand I was fully aware that he was missing three fingers.  He was embarrassed when I asked him how it happened because it wasn’t a very manly story.  His fingers were lost to a small sliver that he didn’t take care of in time and as a result he lost the fingers to save his hand.

Telling that story to my kids produced the desired results.  Not only did they seek treatment for a sliver but they were afraid it was “too late,” even though it had only been moments since they got the sliver in the first place.  I wanted them to get good at asking for help so I would always agree with them that it was really close to being too late.  The resistance problem was taken care of for that situation but we all seem to resist the idea that we need help.

I have watched people get injured in a sport setting or work place and when asked how they were, their first response is “I’m okay” even though a foot maybe pointing in the wrong direction or there is a growing pool of blood.  Only time and reality forces them to say “maybe I’m not okay”.

One of the reasons we resist is because we know it can hurt to clean it out.  To forgive and let go of an event or issue means we have to revisit it, think about it, talk about it, deal with it.  Our self-medicating seems to take care of it at least for a while and we become content with the “new normal.”

Keeping it clean is also work.  Once we are wounded the memory of the individual or event can reopen the wound and bring us right back to our original condition.  Praying a blessing on the person who wounded us isn’t our first response but it is one that will keep the wound clean long enough to heal. Because they had wounded us they became an enemy and even though a lot of time may have passed since the event they can still be very influential in the outcome of our life if we have an active wound.

If it is bigger than what you can do by yourself, get some help.  Asking for help is a sign of wisdom but we too often see it as a sign of weakness.  The scripture clearly says here that we are to “bear one another’s burdens”.   Unfortunately we have taken other scriptures out of context and assumed that our failure to fulfill them was because of our spiritual failure.

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.  The context for this verse is Paul talking about being able to live with plenty or with nothing.  We have used it to presume we are unstoppable and see asking for help as the opposite of what it is; weakness not wisdom.

PROBLEM #2 Sources=Response=They all feel the same!

A second challenge is that all the wounds feel the same!  But not all wounds come from the same source and we need to respond differently to each of them in order to go from a wound to a scar and a story. We already talked about the general idea of wounds but now we need to get more specific as to the source.

Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.  “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

Wounds can have an unlimited number of sources. We have addressed a number of them here but you can’t list all the possible ways each of us as individuals can be wounded.  From these examples I hope we can find an application to our specific wounds.

listNasty Proverbs 26:10 “Like an archer who wounds at random is he who hires a fool or any passer by.”  

There have always been nasty people out there.  A few thousand years ago they hid out in the woods and shot at people as they passed by.  Today they may not use arrows but the wounds can be just as devastating.

You may be able to avoid them.  If you have a choice that can be an option, if you can’t avoid them it may be an issue that requires legal attention.  Abusers, the physically violent, and illegal behavior needs to be brought to the attention of those in authority;  911 can be a real option depending on the type of wound they are inflicting.

Negligence Psalms 38:5 “My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly.”

I have more than one scar on my body that I put there myself.  A tool, a sharp object, or a lack of attention on my part has led to many of the scars I have.  You need to learn from the situation and not blame others.  Working with teens and service projects I have to begin the tool training part by helping them remember that “it is never the tool’s fault” when they are injured by their own negligence.

Sometimes it was our words that started the other person’s words back to us that hurt.  Sometimes it was our own lack of preparation that created the situation that caused the wound, sometimes we just have to take responsibility for our actions and learn from it.  Blaming others will only perpetuate the problem and see us wounded again in the future.

Normal Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Any time two or more people are together for a long enough time period there will be friction.  It is normal and inevitable and doesn’t have anything to do with them liking or not liking you.  All people are different and will in time set a few sparks flying as iron sharpens iron.

Needed Proverbs 27:6 “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

Learn don’t blame.  If you have a friend who cares enough to correct you then you are in a good place. As unpleasant as their words can be this wound will prevent further bigger wounds in your future.  My cancer surgery was a needed wound that has added years to my life.  We need to look at those kinds of wounds and be thankful.

Nurture Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  

We always expect, more from those who should love us.  It can be parents, spouses, children, or bosses.  If they are in a position to nurture us we are disappointed and can be deeply hurt when they don’t.  If it is in our power we need to minimize these occurrences and apologize when we do it to others.

If we are the one wounded, break out the first aid kit and deal with the wound.  Our personal strength is only as strong as the people in our lives.  Keep those relationships alive and vital.

Nature Luke 21:11 “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”

I was involved in reconstruction work following the Katrina and Rita storms of 2005.  The devastation was immense and entire towns were eliminated from the map.  As we rebuilt I periodically heard “God” blamed for the destruction.

Nature (his creation) can’t be blamed when we have been warned of the “natural disasters” that predictably come our way.  When you have a large salt water body and periodic tidal surges a flat landscape will flood.  Louisiana could not be any flatter than it is along the coast just east of Texas.  He warned us these kinds of things would happen, do we want to risk so much despite the warnings?

Not Listed You guessed it there are too many sources to list.

Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

The problem is they all feel the same regardless of the source!  Learn to distinguish the source and then learn to respond in a way that enhances your future.  Wounds only rob you of your future if they aren’t dealt with.

TRAINED BY IT
Hebrews 12:12-13 “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.  “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

If you don’t change your behavior and the circumstances around you can’t expect a different future.

1.  First Aid Kit
Learning to respond and apply the kit will allow you to grow in wayImages you couldn’t in the past.  It also begins to train you to look ahead and not get wounded when you don’t have to.  Often we just haven’t learned what to do and the time you have taken to read this can be the beginning of living life a new way.
2.  Respond accordingly
  a.    Avoid
I grew up in a very small town and was subject to a lot of bullying.  One of my tormentors knew the route I had to take weekly and would throw rocks at me as I passed by his home.  I walked a different way because I could.  Sometimes we won’t change because we don’t think we should have too, they should change.  But you can’t make that happen and you can avoid some situations and people.
      

        b.    Change your Behavior

Proverbs 10:19 “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”

I know more than one person who assumes that if they keep talking they will solve the problem or get their way.  For them only a change in behavior will reduce the number of wounds they receive in a lifetime.

          c.    Expectations Adjustment
We often expect more of people than they can deliver.  When we do that we get hurt when we don’t have to.  Adjust your expectations so that they can live up to them and if you get more you are pleasantly surprised.

          d.    Is it Guidance?
More than once I have had crazy ideas and the plan had to come crashing down around me before I saw the truth:  I was my crazy idea.  The wound was guidance.   Consider this as a possible source but not always the source.

My first out of country mission trip was the mission trip from Hell.  The wounds kept me bleeding for months.  Had I not dealt with it the hundred plus trips that I have done since would never have happened.  The future trips were also shaped by the experience from the first one, because they weren’t active wounds; but healed scars.

3.  Apply it Now
Take some time and just walk through the list again.  The first time may have been for the educational value, this time it is for your health.

Nasty Proverbs 26:10 “Like an archer who wounds at random is he who hires a fool or any passer by.”  
Negligence Psalms 38:5 “My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly.”
Normal Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Needed Proverbs 27:6  “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Nurture Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  
Nature Luke 21:11 11 “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
Not Listed

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