How a Skinned a Knee is Like a Hurting Soul
One of the best parts of being a father of little children is taking them to church with me. One of my girls loves to go to church because she “wants to see her friends.” She loves everything about our church, and she hates leaving when it is time to go home. That, of course, is one of the difficult parts of being a father, getting little people to leave their favorite places. One Wednesday night, I was holding my daughter’s hand as we headed out the door of the sanctuary toward my car, and she was stalling.
“I left my dinosaur!” She shouted
“I can pick it up tomorrow,” I replied
Unimpressed she whined, “I left my candy!”
“You don’t need any more candy tonight.”
“I want Mama!” I think she was under the impression her mom would give her a better hearing on the matter. She would have been mistaken.
With that last cry, she turned back to the door and stopped paying attention to where she was going. She took a step off the sidewalk onto the asphalt parking lot and missed the landing. She fell and landed on her knee.
Healing and Our Timetables
First, she screamed. Then there were tears and recriminations. I picked up my sobbing daughter and comforted her the best I could.
The next night we were getting ready for dinner when she looked down at her knee. Her little knee spawned a scab.
“Why isn’t my knee better yet?” She demanded.
“Well, sweetheart, healing takes some time. Give it about a week, and the whole thing will be healed.”
Then, with the drama of 1,000 dance moms on recital night, she furrowed her brow, folded her arms, stomped her foot, and shouted, “I’m never going to get better.” With that, she stormed out of the room slamming a door behind her.
I suspect all of us have had a wound or two we thought would never heal. It has happened to me.
Healing of the Soul
The injury sneaked up on me, and I never saw it coming. Simultaneously and without warning, multiple deep crises affecting every area of my life assaulted me. I was facing issues in my professional life, my personal life, and my spiritual life. The crises charged with the suddenness and force of an angry hippopotamus defending her turf against an encroaching hyena, and I was not quick or agile enough to escape. I was flattened, crushed. I was struggling spiritually and emotionally, and it was becoming obvious to those closest to me.
After months of trying to endure the crises alone, I sought help. I recognized I was in a very bad emotional place and started to work through the damage. Even after working through several of the issues, I was starting to think I would never recover. Slightly terrified at the prospect, I thought, “What if sadness is just the way I am now? What if, at the core of my soul, I do not have the capacity for happiness any longer?”
Looking back, I can see why I pondered those questions. I had been through weeks of difficult, painful conversations and months of consuming sadness, and I was not getting any better. I expected that I would begin to regain my normal happiness as I resolved the issues I faced. Even after resolving many of them, though, there was no progress toward emotional healing. My expectations were confounded. I felt like a shell of my former self.
The Injury Is Not The Last Word
I asked a friend her opinion on the matter, and she gave me a profound word of grace. “Your mind is designed to heal. Your mind wants to heal.” Applied to the body, this insight is central and unremarkable at the same time: your body wants to heal.
If I were to break a bone, doctors would set the bone, put the injured limb in a cast to protect it from further injury, and keep it still. Then they would wait. They would wait for the body’s natural processes to work. In the process of weeks and months, the body would mend the break on its own. Healing from a cut in the skin works in much the same way. The body itself takes care of cuts once the medical professionals clean and suture it. The body’s natural healing process is a marvelous part of the created order. It is also so common and effective we hardly notice.
The Mind and the Brain
What if, the mind, as part of the body, has healing capacities of its own as well? Although the connection between the mind and brain is elusive, scientists are certain that they are interconnected. What affects one affects the other. The brain is a physical reality. It is part of the body. It, then, would be surprising if the brain were not designed to help us heal from psychological traumas we suffer like the rest of the body is designed to heal from the physical traumas we suffer.
The words of grace my friend extended to me gave me hope. At the bottom of my personality was not a pile of grey and grim emotions. I was not banished to the realm of sadness forever. There was a full, strong, confident, whole, and happy self underneath it all. It just needed to heal, and through God’s grace, it did.
Sit With It
Sometimes we just have to sit with our sadness until it heals. I have a therapist friend who is fond of saying, “Never underestimate the spiritual power of a snack and a nap.” Allowing ourselves to be where we are emotionally, without apology, is an important step toward healing. Sometimes giving the body the food it craves is the tonic the soul needs. Sometimes, you just need rest. When you emerge, you will find strength for the journey of healing ahead of you.
Being ready to feel differently can be a sign your healing is in process.
Also By Layne Wallace: Daughters