April is National Poetry Month and I’ve been sharing on my Facebook some of the selections I’ve written over the years. Poetry is usually something personal, although I often write what I call “perspective” poems – poems I write from the “voice” of someone else whose experience I imagine or sympathize. I’ve posted some personal ones, and choose to keep others tucked away. It’s difficult to share the stuff that comes from the deep places of the heart, especially with people whose response will likely remain unknown. It’s “too hard” to let the world see our wounds, isn’t it?
Woundedness is something we all experience and something we all try to hide from ourselves and others. But it’s always there, like a basement door we shove a large piece of attractive furniture in front of – a curio cabinet filled with dainty things, delicate and beautiful knickknacks, sentimental pictures from “happier” times. That’s what we’d prefer to look at in our souls, what we’d have others see instead of the door we’ve chosen to bolt and disguise.
That basement – and we all have one – harbors the ills done to us and the pains we’ve experienced. Things we’ve done to others dwell there also. Woundedness, brokenness, deep emotional pain, even deeper soul pain. How foolish to think it would go away, but we believe it. No one fools the self better than the self. We put our little band-aids on gashing wounds and half-severed limbs and store them in a sea of forgetfulness. But the sea always churns what is in it, and throughout our lives things happen which bring those hidden pains to surface.
It is what we choose to do with them at that point which matters. In fact, it’s a matter of life and death. But what if I’m a Christian? I’m not going to die spiritually if I ignore the things that are too hard and too big to ever fully go away? I get along just fine. There is no use in digging up the past. God will heal me when I get to heaven anyway.
Yes, we might have a functioning and successful life. Work and family might be as ‘together’ as it can possibly be. But I doubt that anyone reading this would deny that at least one thing in the ‘basement’ occasionally makes a sound, asking and sometimes demanding to get out. We know how powerful it is. We know how damaging it would be if we moved the curio and dared to touch fragile fingers to aging, rusted locks. We don’t even think that God could take care of the past, and even if he could, we don’t want to experience healing because that means pain.
Good news – God is the most experienced heart surgeon around with a long-standing reputation. And he is gentle. Isaiah 42:3 says “A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering candle he will not snuff out …” God’s knowledge of us coupled with the power of his love and character (tender, merciful, kind, compassionate, patient) is exactly what we need. He knows when to push forward and when to pull back in such a way that pain will be minimized. He won’t let us suffer in the healing process beyond what is endurable, and the healing ointment of the Holy Spirit and Comforter will ease whatever pain happens in the process.
It’s worth it. Without deep healing for those deep wounds, we do die on some level. And if we’re choosing to live as crippled Christians, yes, we may feel fine and we’ll still go to heaven, but our pain serves to limit us, and those limitations and hindrances could mean the spiritual death of not just one person, but many. In our wounded state, there are people who cannot be reached. I wasted years of my life living with wounds, and only now am I seeing how detrimental that was. I was so inhibited from reaching out to people who need to know who Jesus really is. I look at where they are in life now and wonder how they might be different if I was in a stronger and more healed position to have met them when and where they needed it. Would they know Jesus by now?
Well, enough of that. Here’s a poem in honor of National Poetry month and one that touches on this very topic. I hope I’ll keep reaching out to the Gentle Surgeon, who also happens to be a Loving Father, and I hope you will too.
A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break
How do You hold a fragile bird that’s fallen from a tree?
How do You touch a tender nerve when You perform a surgery?
How do You mend a broken bone without breaking the remains?
How do You heal a wounded soul with hidden unknown pains?
How do You soothe the crying child afraid of all around?
How do You sift through pounding rain to guide one drop aground?
How do You work the needle quick to sew and patch the hole?
How do You mold the shattered glass into something new and whole?
I am the bird, the nerve, the bone, the soul, the child that screams
I am the drop that’s falling fast, the cloth that’s ripping at the seams
I am the glass that’s on the edge, that fears the break and fears the heat
I am the one who needs You now, the bruised reed at Your feet