“To heal a wound, you need to stop touching it.” That’s what she told me. Just to stop touching it. But you see I am the kind of person who, when a scab develops, I can’t help but picking at it. I pick and pick even though it hurts, because it bothers me, all raised up, hard and bumpy feeling. I pick at it until the scab falls off followed by more blood gushing out than the wound had caused in the first place, only to be left with a nastier looking wound and scab.
As I thought hard and deep on those words, I only grew more and more confused. “To heal a wound, you must stop touching it”. At first those words made sense, because I had always been taught to leave a scab alone, or it will only get worse. But, and bear with me here, if I were to fall onto a raw steak knife covered in all of its raw meat goodness, I hardly believe that anyone in their right state of mind would look me in the eye only to tell me “just don’t touch it and it will heal”. No, I’d be rushed to the hospital, frantically asked a billion questions about the fall, the condition of the knife, the meat, and then continue to have the wound painfully cleaned out with what feels like straight up rubbing alcohol and probably be forced into getting updated on a tetanus shot. Because, that’s what you do. I don’t need to just stop touching the wound, I have to go through a painful process of cleaning the wound and I need to be more careful when I am around steak knives.
Now that I’ve bored you with my story about steak (I hate steak btw, it was just the grossest thing I could come up with off of the top of my head), I’ll let you in on where I am going with this.
My first two years in college, I was involved in a deadly and dangerous relationship. I tried and tried to get out of the relationship, but try as I may, I always fell back to him. He was my comfort zone, and I was afraid of life without him. I was shy and naïve, and he was the complete opposite, and that appealed to me. He controlled my every move, and I let him. At first I convinced myself to see it as only him caring about me and that’s why he was controlling. My world revolved around him and making him happy even if it meant compromising on my beliefs and values.
We argued 24/7 over things as small as him not liking the pants I was wearing that day because he didn’t approve. There would be times when I wouldn’t hear from him for days at a time. No text, no phone call, wouldn’t show up to class, nothing. Being the naïve and innocent person I was, I would grow frantically worried, trying every means possible to get in touch with him, only to find out from his roommate days later that he had been passed out from parties, drugs and alcohol for days. The first time I found out he had cheated on me, I was devastated. Broken. I had given him everything, only to be tossed out like yesterday’s trash. I would go to talk with him with the intentions of breaking up and moving on. See the problem with that though was it never went the way that I planned. He would get angry and threaten to have his gang friends hurt me and my friends. So, there I was left terrified, broken, and unable to talk to anyone with the fear of them getting hurt too.
Finally one day I went to talk with a counselor there at my school, because I couldn’t bear the pain alone anymore. Those were the words that she told me. “To heal a wound, you need to stop touching it”. She told me I was causing all of the pain that I was going through, that I was the source of my own pain, I was the problem. I left her office and sat in the stairwell. Head in my hands, bursting into tears, even more lost and confused than when I had entered. I had stopped going to church, mainly because of him, because he wouldn’t go with me and didn’t trust me to go anywhere alone. I had also stopped because I felt judged. Now, I grew up on the mission field, so it’s not like I was new to the spiritual world, but walking through those doors and having people look at me and judge me was a feeling I wasn’t used to. It hurt. It stung. It pierced. It cut. Deep. So I stopped that hurt by just not going anymore.
Some would see it as me finally stepping up and letting go, and to the outside, that’s what it looked like. The truth is, I gave up. I gave up on him, I gave up on God, and I gave up on myself. I stopped caring. He left. He left…and it didn’t feel as relieving as I wanted it to. In fact it hurt worse. He had been my comfort zone. He had alienated me from everyone else in my life, and now he was gone too.
So there I was in my college dorm room, feeling like the only human left on earth, broken, torn to shreds, and alone, not even remembering how to breathe without him. What hurt worse was he didn’t even know. So there I was left with a gaping wound, infected and disgusting, but taking the advice I had been given, I just left it alone and stopped touching it.
The infection in my wound spread throughout my entire body until the point that it infected everything within me.
I grew separated from the world. I said the bare minimum to those around me, including my family because they would never know or understand the pain that I was going through, and I didn’t want to disappoint them, or let them down. After all, they were overseas doing what God had called them to do, and I was afraid of failing them and not living up to the expectations that I planted in my head that they held me to.
I was failing everything. Classes. Friendships. My family. Life.
That summer I made the decision to take a break from college for a while and go back to the only place I knew to go. I packed my bags, bought a plane ticket, and went home.
Home. I went home. I felt incredibly judged by this decision, but at that point I simply didn’t care anymore, because it was what I needed to do.
Home for me and my family at the time was Taiwan. Being a world away from your problems is definitely a way to step back and evaluate your life and what you live for.
I moved back in with my family, got a part time job at a school, and spent most of my days journaling by the pool and drinking green tea.
Putting my heart into words on paper was the best therapy I had ever experienced.
I didn’t realize how hard my heart was until I could read it on paper. I was bitter. I was resentful. My heart was filled with hatred. Hatred towards the guy who had hurt me. Hatred towards the people who had judged me. Most of all I realized my heart was filled with hatred towards God. I hated him for allowing all of this to happen to me and letting me feel this way. I didn’t want to be filled with hatred anymore. So right there in Taichung, Taiwan, laying by the pool with my green tea, for the first time, I ripped off the old worn bandage that was covering my infected wound.
I ripped it off and signed the patent waiver over to God and said “here it is, I know it’s bad, but I’ve heard all my life that you are the greatest physician and no wound is too far gone for you to heal. I understand that it will hurt. A lot. But I don’t care. Do what you have to do to make it better.”
I think I might have underestimated just how much it would hurt, but He did it. He went deep into the wound and cleaned it from within.
Relief. I finally had relief from the pain deep within my heart. I learned five things that semester.
- Wounds hurt, but ignored wounds hurt a lot more.
- Wounds heal, if you pay them the right attention.
- Deep wounds leave scars.
- Scars don’t hurt.
- Scars add character if you allow them to.
I also learned that it’s never okay to just stop. It’s not okay to stop caring. It’s not okay to stop loving. It’s not okay to stop feeling. It’s not okay to stop. A sailor never stops in the middle of the ocean. He may pause and adjust his sails when he needs to so that he stays on the right course until he reaches his destination, but he never fully stops, because if he stops he may get entangled in a reef, or a group of sharks, and lose sight of where he’s going.
During the process of healing, my mind constantly fell back to a verse that was taught to me as a child. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not onto your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) This verse struck me in a way that it never had before in the sense that I had just taken my worn, beat up, broken, and bruised heart and placed it into my Father’s hands for healing.
Healing. Although I initially made the decision to sign my patent waiver over to God, it wasn’t just a onetime deal and it was over. There are still nights when sleep doesn’t even feel like an option because Satan takes his little dagger called “Jordan’s past hurt and mistakes” and starts to poke me with it; trying to edge it deeper and deeper into the scars on my heart. It’s in those moments that I have to choose healing over destruction. It’s in those moments that I have to call out and beg Jesus to take hold of the dagger because Satan’s grip is too strong for me to fight on my own. It’s in those moments that I have to remember that it’s okay to pause temporarily and adjust my sail and ask Jesus for help, just so long as I don’t stop. Don’t stop fighting. Don’t stop calling out to my heavenly Father for help, even if that means every second of every day. Don’t stop touching that infected wound, let God gauge it, prod it, poke it, squeeze it, and clean it from within until all the infection is gone. It’s going to hurt, I promise you that. It’s going to be a process, most likely a daily one, but don’t stop letting Christ bring healing to your heart. Whatever you do, don’t stop.