Chapter OneToo Much Rain
Into each life some rain must fall.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
annette seemed calm.
She sat in my office and told me that after
sixteen years of marriage, she had just discovered
that her husband was having an affair.
"Have you talked to him about this?"
"Yes, and he said he was glad I found out and that it has
been going on for about a year."
"So what does he want at this point?"
"To divorce me as quickly as possible and marry her,"
Annette replied, leaning back in her chair.
"Aren't you angry, Annette? Hurt? Depressed?"
"I suppose so," she said, "but I can't afford to waste a
lot of energy on this. I've got two children to care for, and
they need me to be strong."
Annette was right about one thing. Her children would
need her strength. But burying emotions alive isn't a sign of
strength. I wanted to cry out: "Get real, woman! Your husband
has brutally betrayed you. He's broken your trust.
Trashed his vows. He wants to leave you and the kids.
Don't pretend everything is fine. Scream! Yell! Cry! Just
We all have wounds. They come with the territory on
planet earth. The important issue is not whether or not we
are wounded, but rather:
* Which wounds most need my attention?
* How are my wounds affecting me?
* Where am I on the path of healing?
* How can my wounds make me a stronger person?
* How can God use my wounds for good?
An old country pastor once said that there are only two
types of people in the world: those who are wounded and
those who are liars. Though his style was blunt and in-your-face,
I believe he had a point. We all face difficult, unfair,
and painful situations, and most of these leave their mark.
When we slow down and force ourselves to be honest,
we often realize that all is not as it should be in our life.
Certain emotions such as anger, anxiety, fear, depression,
insecurity, irritability, defensiveness, confusion, negativity,
melancholy, and hopelessness are potential signals trying to
tell us that somewhere deep in our heart is a wound that is
still tender. Some of us know exactly what sort of wound
needs our attention, but some of us aren't quite sure.
Wounds come in at least seven varieties.
Physical: These wounds are the most visible. In a world that
places so much emphasis on outward beauty and appearance,
a scar or physical impairment can be a constant reminder
of an affliction due to genetics, disease, accident, or abuse.
Physical wounds are painful by themselves, but more often
than not they are combined with one of the following
wounds, which only intensifies the hurt.
Sexual: Our sexuality is one of the most personal and
vulnerable aspects of who we are. When anyone takes advantage
of this part of us, deep wounds result that may affect
how we see ourselves, others, and life in general. Sexual
boundaries protect us, but when they are broken-whether
by force, fear, or manipulation-we can feel shattered.
Choices: Sometimes we make selfish, foolish, impulsive,
and poorly considered choices that leave painful marks. If we
could only go back and choose differently, we would do so in
a moment. But here we sit in our brokenness, with no one to
blame but ourselves . which only makes the pain worse.
Verbal: Words can be as painful as any physical wound,
sometimes even more so. When barbs are hurled, intentionally
or unintentionally, by those we respect, trust, or lean on,
the hurt can pierce us to the core. Words of discouragement,
rejection, or ridicule can easily squash us, stealing our confidence
Social: We all want to be liked. So when we feel ignored,
embarrassed, excluded, marginalized, used, or attacked by
others, the wound is real. Yet we frequently tell ourselves we
are being immature or oversensitive, and we shouldn't hurt.
We believe we should be able to ignore our wounds. But this
really does nothing to erase the pain. How people treat us
affects us-often profoundly-whether we wish to admit it
Spiritual: When we feel hurt by a church, a fellow
believer, the clergy, or God Himself, the wound can lead to
a devastating spiritual loneliness and depression. We feel
that if God or His people wound us, He must be against us
or not care about us. Who can stand against God? At this
point, our wounds feel like a curse, with no remedy and no
hope of healing.
Emotional: Each of the above wounds carries with it an
emotional component. Sometimes the original wound is so
buried beneath the feelings that we can't even find it. All we
are aware of is the deep, overwhelming ache and the emotions
that accompany it. These emotions confuse our
thinking, cloud our judgment, and too frequently block
our awareness that God is beside us.
Most wounds are some combination of the above
seven types, reminding us that we live in a broken world
and cannot make it on our own. Wounds keep us from
having a good and accurate sense of who we are and may
lead us down a path of thinking too low of ourselves.
The truth is, each one of us is a package containing
great potential and great limitations. The book of Genesis
teaches that humankind was made in the image of God and
from the dust of the earth.
Our Creator is well aware of our humble origins-and
always takes them into account. David tells us that "he
knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust"
Our spirit allows us to soar, but our wounds tether us
to the ground. Wounds hold us back and force us to lean
on the One who can truly heal all wounds.
"Listen to my cry," says the psalmist. "For my life is full
of troubles" (Psalm 88:2-3, NLT). We all have our troubles,
and each of these troubles creates a potential wound. Just
yesterday I was speaking to a competent, attractive, thirty-four-year-old
woman about how her father abandoned the
family when she was six. She waved off my questions, telling
me she rarely thinks about it because it's "ancient history"
and "has no relevancy to my life today."
As I began asking about her father, however, tears
slowly rolled down her face. She quickly wiped them away
with statements like "This is stupid" or "I don't know why
this bothers me."
Finally I simply said, "You stuck a bandage on the
wound, but it hasn't yet healed."
"But how can that be?" She looked at me intently. "It's
been twenty-eight years!"
"Most things fade over time," I explained, "but traumas
tend to stay fresh unless treated."
Certain wounds touch the very core of who we are. It
might be our personality, situation, or age that makes us
more vulnerable to these wounds. It could also be the
intensity, length of time, or person who wounded us that
makes them so painful. Yet whatever the reason, these
wounds are more traumatic than other difficulties we may
Most memories are stored in our mind chronologically.
As time passes, even if the facts and images remain vivid,
the intensity softens, and they have less impact on the here
and now. Traumas, however, are stored topically. This means
the pain does not fade with time. When we focus on this
type of wound, regardless of whether the pain occurred
long ago or yesterday, it holds the same intensity as when it
How Is Your Wound Affecting You?
The following quiz lists some symptoms that commonly
occur following a wound. Understanding your hurts and
how they might be affecting you is the first step to healing.
You may have become so accustomed to your wound that
you're hardly even aware of it. Lack of awareness, however,
isn't always the same as healing. That deep hurt you've put
out of your mind can still affect your life in many obvious
and subtle ways.
Take a moment and read through each symptom below,
marking those that you have experienced more than once
in the past week. Then go back to consider what might be
behind each affirmative response. Ask yourself questions
like: Are these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors normal for me,
or the exception? Which of these symptoms feels the most overwhelming?
How long do they last? What appears to trigger
them? How disruptive are they to the flow of daily life?
As you read through the list, be careful of the tendency
to rationalize, minimize, or explain away your unhappiness.
Try not to dismiss your responses with statements like
"This is just the way life is" or "Everybody has their hurts"
or "I could be doing a lot worse." Once finished, add up
the check marks to see how deep your wounding is and
how strongly it is currently affecting you. The key at the
end of the quiz will help you see what you need to do next.
You spontaneously become tearful for no apparent
You find yourself eating when you aren't hungry.
You are fearful about taking risks.
It is difficult to truly trust people, even yourself.
At times you don't like yourself.
Feelings of guilt and shame can be overwhelming.
You struggle with periods of deep anger or depression.
The world doesn't feel like a safe place.
You wish you could live your life over again.
You feel like something is wrong with you.
You are easily startled.
You feel lonely and detached from others.
You do certain things to try to numb yourself from
the inner pain.
Your future doesn't seem very positive.
It's hard to let go of the past.
You're always expecting something bad to happen.
Life doesn't seem very fair.
Nightmares, flashbacks, or emotional flooding can
leave you upset for days.
Feeling safe and protected is very important to you.
It's hard for you to fully relax.
If you checked . Your wounds are probably .
1-6 Mild to moderate-be careful
7-12 Serious-you need to do something
13-20 Severe-get help now!
There Is Always Hope
Wounds are a part of reality, and reality frequently offers
large portions of hurt and harshness. When I was at one of
the lowest points of my life, I remember crying out to God
but feeling like there was no response. More accurately, the
pain was so consuming that I could neither see nor hear the
God I wanted so much to lean upon.
It was at that point that I turned to wise and godly
counsel. Surely, they could give me hope. They told me to
pray more and read Scripture more and trust God more.
These are good things.
Every one of them.
But they did nothing to ease my pain.
Instead, their answers felt like salt and sand rubbed
deeper into the wound. My "counselors" gave me formulas.
But nobody listened, nobody came close, nobody cried.
They gave their quick fix and kept their distance. I shook
my head and walked away, feeling alone and abandoned.
Out of this situation I became determined to understand
how to relate to people in pain. I wanted to learn how
to give compassion and comfort. In Jeremiah's darkest hour
he heard God say, "I will give you back your health and heal
your wounds" (30:17, NLT). This is the promise we all yearn
for when we feel the most desperate and hopeless. King
David wept as he wrote, "My heart is wounded within me"
Hannah Whitall Smith, one of the bestselling Christian
writers of all time, went through periods of deep discouragement
and despair. Four of her seven children died before
adulthood. One daughter left her husband for an artist and
another daughter left her faith to marry atheist Bertrand
Russell. Her husband was an international evangelist who
had several nervous breakdowns and several affairs, which led
to a public scandal. Friends abandoned her, and arthritis
shadowed her days with great physical pain. Yet through it all
she held on to her faith, writing books like The Christian's
Secret of a Happy Life and The God of All Comfort.
At one point of overwhelming stress and pain, she wrote,
"See God in everything, and God will calm and color all that
thou dost see." In the midst of your wounds we wish to help
you not only see God, but also feel His strong, gentle arms
holding you . comforting you . supporting you . and never
letting you go.
Questions for Reflection
1. What did you identify with in the list of wounds
on pages 19-20?
2. How do these struggles make your day-to-day
life more of a challenge?
3. Within your circle of acquaintance, who do you
know who has experienced painful wounds?
Have they been able to move forward? What
helped them the most?
4. Take thirty minutes in the next few days to sit
outside and inhale deep breaths of fresh air. Note
the sounds and smells around you.