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Into each life some rain must fall. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
annette seemed calm. Too 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 do something."
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 and dreams.
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 or not.
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" (Psalm 103:14).
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 have faced.
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 first happened.
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 reason.
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" (Psalm 109:22).
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.
Excerpted from the wounded woman by Stephen Stephens Pam Vredevelt Copyright © 2006 by Dr. Steve Stephens and Pam Vredevelt. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
|Prologue: The Dark Night (Steve)||11|
|1||Too Much Rain (Steve)||17|
|2||Lampposts in the Dark (Pam)||29|
|3||Good Grief (Pam)||45|
|4||Hidden Faces (Steve)||67|
|5||Facing Fears and Finding Peace (Pam)||81|
|6||Letting Go of Anger (Pam)||95|
|7||The Art of Overcoming (Steve)||113|
|8||Darkness and Land Mines (Steve)||125|
|9||Embraced by God's Healing Presence (Pam)||141|
|10||The Comfort of Caring People (Steve)||157|
|11||Triumph from Tragedy (Steve)||173|
|12||Fresh New Beginnings (Pam)||185|
|13||Trusting Again (Steve)||199|
|14||Please Be Kind to You (Pam)||213|
|15||Tell Your Story (Steve)||231|
|16||Moving Forward (Steve)||243|
|Questions for Group Discussion||255|
Posted July 9, 2012
Posted April 26, 2012
Why are all these books based on how to allow religion to heal you when your abuser is living in your house? As a woman being emotionally and financially abused, i had hoped to find material that addresses how someone could pull out of that dark place.
My relationship with God is fine, it is the one with my husband that suffers due to the control he has over all aspects of our life...family cannot help...turns a deaf ear....even a counselor handled my cries for help in a shabby manner...
Here i am looking through a multitude of the same worn out messages...how to be one with God and spouse...what a message of #$it..
Posted February 7, 2011
I used this book for myself and was amazed! I am also a counselor - I not only recommend this book for those who need it, I BUY it FOR THEM! It is that important! If you're even thinking about it, get it! You will not regret it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 5, 2009
This book is excellent for anyone who is dealing with any type of loss. I recently divorced and suffered from guilt and depression. This book informs you of what is normal and that it is o.k. Life is precious and that we need to find a way to move forward in life. God has a plan for all of us and that we don't always have control.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.