LIVING AS APPRENTICES
In my first year of teaching junior high (the term shows you how long ago that was!) I had a frustrating experience. It was time for grammar, and we were diagramming sentences (again a sign of my age). It may be hard perhaps to believe, but most of the kids loved that exercise in logic. Except for John. The sentence was “My dog is a collie.” I explained that in order to diagram that sentence, we had to recognize that the dog and the collie were the same – as opposed to the sentence “I see a collie” which is about me and a collie. Somehow John arrived at his own logic and said, “But all dogs are collies.” Thus was launched a half hour discussion during which every student in the class and the teacher across the hall tried to help John see that a collie is a dog but not all dogs are collies. We were not successful.
I was reminded of that story this week as I was writing about wounded healers. I believe that each of us is deeply wounded. But not all wounded become healers. I think it is vital to recognize that fact. The Church is a gathering place of the wounded. But not all of them find healing. That is why churches can become the most vicious places on earth and why the unchurched say that they will never darken the door of a church because it is filled with hypocrites. Not all wounded people become healers because not all wounded people are healed. Most churches do not spend a lot of time speaking that truth and then helping people heal. Somehow there are always more important things to do than dealing with the pain and wounds in each person who sits in the church and creating a healing atmosphere. We invite those who do not know Jesus to find healing in our sanctuaries, but we don’t want to acknowledge that many of us have not allowed that Jesus to heal us. And even if we acknowledged that fact, most of us would not be willing even to consider that we were part of the wounded and unhealed.
Henri Nouwen is the inventor of the term “wounded healer.” I sought out his book The Wounded Healer again this week. Nouwen is speaking here about professional ministers. I am enlarging that term to “Christ followers.” Nouwen says:
There is nothing that can be written about ministry without a deeper understanding of the ways in which a minister [Christ-follower] can make his own wounds available as a source of healing. . . . A minister [Christ follower] is called to recognize the sufferings . . . in his own heart and make that recognition the starting point of his service. . . . His [or her] service will not be received as authentic unless it comes from a heart wounded by the suffering about which he [she] speaks.” (p. xvi)
Until the Church and all churches believes this and make it their mission to become authentic healers, hurt people will continue to hurt people. And the suffering Wounded Healer will suffer more as he watches our unwillingness to recycle our wounds destroy his Church.