Dirty Gauze and Sticky Tape: Healing Emotional Wounds
He wore it like a badge of honor. Medals for valor and bravery in the face of battle couldn’t hold more significance for a 7-year-old. He had, after all, vanquished some foe or performed some death-defying act of fearlessness while in his outside playtime world. Unfortunately, with all this bravado came the inevitable skinned knee and shin.
My youngest son, Curt, sat before me on the edge of the bathroom sink as I cleaned the soiled wound. “Blood … real blood!” His deep, dark brown eyes sparkled through the dirt and grime on his face, showing his childish delight at the sight of the red fluid. His momentary winces of discomfort gave way to wide-eyed smiles that revealed the significance of this event.
“Cool!” his satisfied expression said.
Through his pain, his pride swelled. Sure, he was hurting — but it felt good! In his mind, this moment was really special!
I was preparing to send him on his way after a thorough cleaning when he suddenly stopped and realized that daddy had not given him his full reward. With a trembling lip, he reminded me that he needed a bandage — a recognition of his conflict, a reminder of his conquest, and a centerpiece of conversation for all of his friends.
The scrape on his knee and shin was several scratches that ran in an odd three-inch lengthwise pattern from his knee toward his foot. The inch-wide sterile strips we normally used for “ow-ies” would not easily cover this wound. After rifling through the bathroom cabinets for larger strips, I came across two four-inch square gauze pads in their waxpaper-like protective wrappings. “Too big,” I thought. This would certainly be too much bandage for such a minor wound. Yet there were no other sterile strips to be used.
After a brief moment of indecision over which kind of bandage to use, I finally squeezed some antibiotic ointment on the square of gauze and pressed it to his leg. I cut two generous strips of white medical sticky tape and wrapped them around the gauze and the boy’s leg at the top and bottom of the square.
Finally! Now he was able to relax and enjoy the notoriety this badge of honor would soon become. After returning to the yard, he was already walking straighter and taller than he ever had before. Confidence and pride filled his being.
Two days later, after avoiding a thorough bathing for long enough, it was time for me to remove the now dirty gauze square and the sticky tape that had faithfully held the gauze in place. As the bath water began to fill, I sat Curt down and began to carefully peel off the bandage. On the outside, the gauze reflected the grime of two days of school playgrounds and evening playtimes. On the inside, two pink dots were the only reminders of the blood that flowed days before. Even the wound was now a light pink discoloration on the boy’s leg. After a cleansing bath, even that reminder would soon fade.
I stood up in the bathroom and chuckled to myself at how filthy the bandage had become, and I remembered all the fuss made to dress the wound. It was at that moment that I sensed God’s feedback on my musings, “That’s how My people treat the wounds of their hearts.”
At that moment, I began to catch a small glimpse of God’s perspective on those minor hurts, small offenses and relational breakdowns among His children. I could sense His frustration when His people treat minor hurts, scrapes, and bruises like major, gaping mortal wounds.
We all have felt justified in demanding the gauze and sticky tape for our minor soulish scratches. After days of parading around our “badges of honor”, we suddenly realize how dirty our self-righteousness has become. To bathe in God’s forgiveness and cleansing, our dirty gauze must be removed.
In a split-second, I perceived a healing strategy from God’s Word for those who have endured wounds of the soul:
Keep a grace perspective! Wounds of the soul are just as real as wounds of the body. Lies, deceit, slander, selfishness, verbal and emotional abuse, misunderstanding — regardless of the cause, these wounds cut deep and have a profound and lasting effect on the believer.
I am reasonably sure that you have been the target of cruelty and mean-spiritedness, just as I have. The first step to victory and healing of soulish wounds is to realize that Jesus is the Healer of your emotional wounds, just as He clearly is the Healer of our bodies. His healing virtue is only appropriated by grace through faith, so our only “action,” when we have been wounded, is to believe — to accept His healing grace by faith.
“He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” Psalm 107:20 (KJV)
Nothing is happening to you that is personal or unique: it’s occurring in all the rest of the Body of Christ as well (see 1 Peter 5:9).
Keep it accountable! A key to healing lies in the sharing of the need, the widening of the circle of trust.
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church … confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:14,16 (NKJV)
Don’t stifle or trivialize hurts or emotional wounds. Share them with a trusted friend or minister, and ask for this prayer of healing promised to the local church. By verbalizing hurts, we help keep the healthiest perspective on life issues. Keep pressing into praise until joy wins out! The power and majesty of praise and worship help to diminish the hurt and magnify the Healer! A former pastor of mine said, “Worship is establishing the relative positions between God and man.” Therefore, the act of “trading our sorrows” helps to release the “oil of joy for gladness.”
“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13 (NKJV)
By applying these truths to our prayer life, we can overcome hurts and soulish wounds. Just like Curt found his wounds had healed, when we remove the dirty gauze and sticky tape from our emotional hurts, and then cleanse the wounded area, we are able to relish the healing grace of Jesus Christ. May God give you boldness to obtain His promised freedom!
She just needed a little money to finish college. The price was steep, but she reasoned to herself that she wouldn’t pay it for long. She was only ten units away from earning her degree.
But the price is always steeper than expected when the Enemy is offering the solution to our problems. Before she knew it, she was the one wearing a price tag.
When she finally escaped the man who had trafficked her, she still didn’t have the money for college. Instead, she was completely broken and had a baby on the way. It was difficult to believe that anyone or anything had the power to heal her heart’s deepest wounds.
Then Jesus stepped in.
“He helped me to see that I could never be too far gone and that He came to die for people just like me,” she said.
“When I thought He had given up on me, I look back now and realize that in my darkest moments, He was right there next to me.”1
I don’t know what wounds you carry, but maybe you have doubts about whether they can be healed, like this young woman did. Am I too far gone? Has God given up on me?
Maybe your heartbreak is so overwhelming that you can’t imagine healing and relief. I understand. I’ve been there.
But this truth is eternal: nothing is too hard for God.
God wanted to be sure you knew this was true, so He included in Scripture countless stories of shattered lives that He made whole.
David had a child through adultery and had his lover’s husband murdered, yet he went on to become known as a man after God’s own heart. Mary Magdalene was possessed by demons, yet she was delivered from them and, later, was the first to see the risen Christ! The Samaritan woman had a long line of broken relationships, and her bad reputation made her a social outcast. But after she met Christ, she became the first missionary to her village.
We could go on and on to make this point: God restores people.
What about you? Do you want to know that God’s healing power is enough for you too? Come into His presence and risk asking this question: “My God, can You heal the deepest wounds of my heart?”
Then open your heart to hear His sweet response:
All things are possible with [Me]. — Mark 10:27
There is no place so dark that the love of Christ can’t find you and heal you.
Healing Past Wounds and Forgiving Present Scars
Offering forgiveness to others is one of the most difficult and important aspects of the Christian life. The Bible clearly commands us to forgive others. God longs to fashion us into his likeness that we might model the love we’ve been shown to a world with no concept of mercy. He longs for us to offer grace and forgiveness to the undeserving as we have been offered grace and forgiveness when we were undeserving. May you be filled with courage and boldness to offer forgiveness to those in desperate need of grace. And may God’s love shine through as you enter into your calling as a minister of reconciliation.
Scripture:“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” >1 Peter 2:24
All of us have experienced trial and pain. All of us are living life wounded and scarred. We learn to deal with our wounds and press forward, but whether we acknowledge it or not, wounds and scars change us. There are no perfect parents. There are no perfect friends. There are no perfect siblings or spouses. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect humans. We lash out and hurt others because we are broken and in need of healing.
One of the most critical spiritual exercises we can undergo is allowing God to heal our past wounds and guide us to a lifestyle of forgiving present scars. Without healing and forgiveness, other people’s mistakes will affect our future. Without the inner working of the Holy Spirit, we will live in continual suffering from the sins of others.
Our God is a God of healing. Psalm 147:3 says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 103:2-4 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” >1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” Your heavenly Father longs to speak to the wounded places in your life and heal them with his love.
What past experience, trial, hurtful word, or person is still harmfully affecting your life today? Where do you need the Holy Spirit to come and speak healing over you? Where do you need to cry out to God in anger or frustration over a wound? Opening the wounded places of our hearts is an emotional and difficult process, but until we allow God into the harmful events of our pasts we will never experience true freedom and restoration from them. Until we allow ourselves space to deal with what for some have been harmful and defining moments, we will never experience the entirety of the abundant life available to us.
And as the Lord begins to heal our wounds, we must allow him to guide us to a lifestyle of forgiveness for our present scars. We must forgive those people who hurt us so the scars in our lives become symbols of God’s redeeming love rather than reminders of painful events. James 2:13 says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Show mercy to those who are undeserving of it just as your heavenly Father has shown you mercy. Love your enemies as Jesus did so that you can experience triumph instead of pain, freedom instead of enslavement to negativity, and joy instead of anger. May your heavenly Father be allowed to love you, hold you, and care for the places in your heart that need his healing touch the most.