Can the Wounded Serve

Tears began to flow as I was sitting in a living room with a few other ladies, the kind of tears that you didn’t mean to let fall but couldn’t stop. img_6627You see, something almost magical happens when these ladies gather and I get to join.  All of the sudden I don’t have to be a rock star mom, an amazing wife, or a devout Christian.  I don’t really have to be anything.  We are not best friends, even though I enjoy each of them very much. We don’t hang out much besides these couple gatherings a month and a small chat here or there when we have the time, but when we do come together we can share our hearts.

The topic of conversation was casual and turned a bit more passionate when we fell onto the subject of our city and the needs that are so prevalent.  That Sunday’s sermon was excellent and has had my head spinning ever since.  It was touching, it was motivating, and for me it was frustrating.

And this is why:

The season of life I have stepped into, with much resistance, is a season of healing.  Some of us have skeletons in the closet, baggage we are carrying around, pasts that haunt us.  And at some point we desire freedom, so we let out the skeletons, unpack the bags, and revisit the past.  This is my time.  This is my season.  I am not overjoyed about this and am like a resistant two year-old saying “No, I don’t wanna!” while stamping her foot so hard her wispy toddler hair bounces from the impact.  Reluctantly, I give in.

I’m only at the beginning, just getting started, but am raw from emotion.  It’s not easy opening up your heart, the one you have guarded faithfully for many years, the one you have taken care of.  So when the process begins, things I have begun experiencing, for lack of better words, are different and unfamiliar.

As we begin talking about our community and the children and the poverty, I lose it. With the condition of my heart and the room’s loving atmosphere of  “come as you are” my emotions spill out like little bouncy balls going every which way, and there was no way for me to catch them.

I know I felt conflicted after hearing the message on Sunday, but these tears, this deep heartbreak with an even deeper anger caught me off guard.  Because I believe I cannot do anything about it, or can I?

I’m left with this question, can the wounded serve?  I’ve been called into this season of life, to heal and to rebuild the broken, my broken.  Opening up old wounds is painful, and it takes time and it takes energy.  Honestly the task seems too big, overwhelming and extremely scary so how could I possibly have the capacity to serve, to serve others, to serve our God?  I’m angry that I feel like I can’t, that I’m not whole enough or strong enough, or put together enough.  I cannot even carry my own burdens so how can I carry the burdens of others?

But I still want to.

I don’t have an answer to my question, I just lay it out there for discussion, to chew on, to examine and search and wind the wheels of our mind.  Now the easy answer is, “Of course you can serve, of course you can help others.  With God you can do anything. He makes up for what we lack.” Actually these are all things I believe, and even believe He calls us to do the things we could not possibly do on our own. However, I don’t think they answer my deeper question. Because if you are really wounded, if you are really sick and God does not give you an instant healing, but instead purposely calls you into a journey of healing, of rebuilding and refining are you really supposed to be out on the mission field? Am I really supposed to be out on enemy lines when right now I’m not sure I could easily recognize the enemy, when I feel as if my armor is thin and my limp is too slow? God is choosing not to fix this quickly, He is choosing to allow me to walk with a limp, to be confused so I seek, to keep my armor thin so He can heal my wounds.

So I googled it, the question.  I didn’t ask Seri because we are not well acquainted yet, and Google usually pulls through.  My quick search came across stories of soldiers being allowed back into action after losing limbs, amazing stories of courage and duty to our country.  However the soldiers did not go back into battle until they were healed, or at least strong enough to handle battle.  A play also popped up in my search by Thornton Wilder called The Angel that Troubled the Waters with the quote, “In Love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve.” I turned this quote over and over in my mind, and I understand the plays beautiful message that our wounds serve a purpose.  I get that, but still the question can be asked, when do those wounds serve a purpose? Plus, it doesn’t fit so neatly into the freedom and healing I’m seeking after.

I also go to God’s Word and demand my brain to recall every Bible hero I can remember, did any of them serve when they were incredibly wounded and vulnerable? At first my mind goes blank.  I am not a Bible scholar, far from a theologian.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t even ace my Old and New Testament Bible classes in college.  Finally a Bible figure pops into my tired mind, a story I had just read to my daughter the day before, the story of Samson.  Sometimes the simplicity of a children’s Bible story book helps me see the main story and not get so caught up in the details. bible2
I remembered that I was taken aback because he, being one of my childhood heroes, was not a great guy.

At first glance he seems like a big jerk.  On second look, maybe he was just a real sensitive guy, but either way he just didn’t do much good with the strength that God gave him.  As his life story goes, He did do good on the last day of his life, when he was stripped of his strength, sight, dignity, identity, and freedom.  God granted him strength one last time and he pulled down the whole temple killing thousands of Philistines.  He was wounded and he served.

I’m sure there are other stories in the Bible of those serving when they were wounded and not to be forgotten the many martyrs and those tortured for their faith.  As I typed the words wounded and vulnerable my beloved Jesus came to mind.  However, I wouldn’t dare to compare my situation to His sacrifice or even the sacrifice of the many others who have gone before me.

My heart still doesn’t have an answer that fits perfectly in the slot. All I have is a discussion.  I’m not sure there is an answer.  Maybe I’m looking at it all wrong.  Because most of this has been “I” statements speaking to what I want and what I don’t.  Isn’t the real question about surrender?  How much am I willing to give up?  Am I willing to give up my comfort, my pseudo-clarity, and my easy answers to go down the unfamiliar path?  The one that looks dark and scary where I can only see a few steps in front of me. The one that creates more questions than there will ever be answers.  It is not about my great ideas, or how much I want to serve and fix, or how hard my heart breaks for others. It’s definitely not about my impatience, resistance, and anger for having to go through a healing season.  When it comes down to it,

it’s not about if I can serve, but If I’m willing when He calls me to.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, uphold me with a willing spirit. ~ Psalm 51:12

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