Hemorrhaging Fingers and The Healthy Church

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I had a rather disturbing dream a couple of weeks ago. In it, I was in the kitchen, cooking (or trying to, since I am new at this venture). As I was slicing vegetables, I sliced my finger open, but not just a little bit. I really cut it deeply, and it was not a pretty sight. Just thinking about it now makes my stomach swirl.

The strange part about the dream was my reaction. Apparently I continued to try and cook as if nothing had happened, because my husband walked into the kitchen, saw my finger, and freaked out. I, however, remained calm and did my best to convince him that it was really no big deal, and that I would be fine. He, of course, was not convinced, and insisted that we go straight to the hospital for desperately needed stitches. Then I woke up…scratching my head.

I have strange dreams sometimes, and try my best to just shake them off. But I have also learned to pray that if God intends to speak to me through them, He will. And while I’m busy trying to shake off some of those dreams, He will sometimes refuse to let one be shaken off, so He can speak important truths by them. As it turns out, this was one such dream, and this is what I felt the Lord speaking through it:

The cut on my finger represents the wounds we often acquire in our lives, and my efforts to go on as though nothing major had happened (even though it had) is a picture of how we often try and survive our blows. Whether because we don’t know where to turn for help, because it’s too painful to face the process of healing, or because we just don’t have the time and energy for it, we are masters at avoiding our wounds.

What we don’t often realize, however, is the effect that avoidance has on those around us, and on the rest of our lives.

In the dream, it took my husband demanding that I seek professional help for me to finally agree to get some attention for my wound. This is significant because he is my significant other, and the people that are closest to us are most often the ones who pay the highest price for our refusal to address our wounds. While we try to go on living as if nothing traumatic has happened – or as though our trauma is something we can learn to live with, we carry the effects of that trauma (very often subconsciously and unintentionally) right into our closest relationships.

This is depicted by my intentions to go on cooking as though my cut wouldn’t affect my ability to do what I was doing. The gory fact of the matter, however, was that I was bleeding all over everything I touched.

I read a quote once that shouted truth into my soul. It said:

“If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.”

Ouch.

An even greater truth is that we were made for community and connection, and we can’t be all in as a part of that when we have wounds that haven’t been tended to. When we should be positioned to lift and help, we will be inevitably weaker and compromised, if not disqualified because we have our own mess that keeps us from being able to be truly effective in someone else’s.

I believe in healing. God has graciously led me into the healing of things I didn’t know I needed to be healed from. I am a survivor of so many things and, like most people, I just learned how to get through them and do my best to learn what I could from them. Thankfully, in Jesus, I’ve acquired the grace to surrender what I cannot understand and find beauty in the midst of the ashes.

But in Jesus, I have also learned that His desire and intention is for my complete healing and freedom (and yours, too). And that means I must remain willing to take a good, hard look at anything He calls my attention to – whether He does it through my time alone with Him, or through my interactions with those He has placed in my life.

I find it interesting, if not telling, that I received this dream in the middle of another deep healing journey. I am facing something that I didn’t know needed this much facing. I’ve allowed God to touch it before, and because He did – providing the grace to go on from there – I thought it was enough. Maybe, at the time, it was. But because He has my yes, He also had permission to dig into it again. And I’ve been completely amazed at how much “blood” was still flowing from that old wound.

That “blood” has looked like things I’ve come to regard as normal: unexplainable and unresolvable anger; a need to control things and people (hello: kids?!); a lack of wholeness between the physical/mental/emotional/spiritual aspects of myself; an inability to love myself well; a struggle to trust God, especially in certain areas; avoidance of conflict; emotional bondage; an inability to see and pursue my purpose (there are always only fragments that I cannot seem to reach the completion of); and the list goes on.

By “normal,” I don’t mean acceptable. What I mean is that I have lamented over these struggles, and made some progress with them. But I’ve treated them as inexplicable and isolated behaviors, instead of realizing that they were flowing from a wound (actually several) that I didn’t know was so deep. And so, while I’ve been trying to function like a normal, unwounded person, my family and the community God has placed me in have experienced the inevitable consequences of my suffering and my insistence (even though unconscious) that I’m okay.

Let me interject here that I’ve sought to be responsible about the whole thing, because maybe you have, too. I never intentionally set out to ignore my wounds and hope they would just go away. In all earnestness, I have sought God for full healing in every area of my life. I’ve just been surprised by what He has uncovered in that process. And if I’ve been surprised, it’s pretty likely that there are wounds hiding in the depths of every life that God desires to heal.

Healing isn’t a fun process. It hurts, I’m not going to lie. It’s painful. It’s messy. It’s inconvenient. It’s vulnerable. It doesn’t seem to make sense. It requires the shattering of many “normals” in our lives and routines.

But it’s necessary, if we are to become all God intended for us to be.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, a healthy church (body) begins with a healthy member. We are the hands and feet and other parts that make up the body of Christ. We are the church. Therefore, if the church is to rise up in the earth and be the light God has called it to, we must each embrace our responsibility to wholeness, and that requires the willingness to bring our wounds before God for healing…until they are completely healed.

That diagnosis and pronouncement belong to God, and should not be the result of our own opinions. We are often much too quick to settle for “good enough” at the first signs of relief, while God wants to bring so much more. Things that are only partially healed are more susceptible to being rewounded. And while we can work while we are wounded, it is never at full capacity.

God is gracious, and can empower us to do much while we are in the process of healing. Somehow, He gets great glory out of this, as we cooperate with Him. But there have been many times when I’ve encountered an unhealed person – a person who has refused his or her healing, the way I did in my dream – and in those interactions, God is robbed of His glory. He doesn’t get to reveal Himself through that broken vessel, because it hasn’t been yielded to His perfect hands.

Beloved, it doesn’t take much to begin your journey. No matter how deep your wounds, they are no match for God’s loving touch. If there are things in your past (or present) that are causing you to bleed all over everyone around you, just bring it to God. If you can’t see any blood flowing from any wounds in your life, have the courage to ask God what He sees, and if there is any healing He wants to bring to your life right now. This will be an ongoing journey and process, because the broken world we live in leaves its marks often. So it’s a good idea to make a regular habit of checking in with God and getting His expert opinion.

May you want what God wants for your life today, and may you be willing to let Him bring the healing that will lead you into it. I leave you with this Scripture, hoping it will become Your prayer:

“Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are the One I praise.” – Jeremiah 17:4

This is what He does. He is our Blessed Healer!

{Photo images courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com}

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