rose bush

It was dusk and I was in my pajamas, my arms wrapped around a rose bush in the front yard. I heard my son’s truck pull into the driveway.

“No big deal!” I yelled out, “Just hugging a rose bush in my nightgown!”

I think he was tired from work, because he didn’t even blink as he passed me on the porch. Plus, he knows I'm a little eccentric anyway.

In reality, I was taking advantage of the coolness of evening to tie up some of my out of control climbing rose limbs. I must have managed to grab quite a few thorns, because hours later, I noticed a network of scratches and punctures on my arms. I also became aware of scratches and bruises on my legs, but that must have been from when I was cutting and assembling new screens for our windows the day before.  I had no recollection of hurting myself, but now I felt a little embarrassed to be seen in public. Apart from my face, I was a mess of minor, insignificant, but certainly not pretty, wounds. 

Craving Joy Instead of Hurt

Do you ever manage to hurt yourself, but can't remember a specific how or when?   Surely you felt the pain at the time, but you must have utterly ignored it or repressed the moment of injury. You were probably too busy just keepin' on to take the time out to feel.

I had been feeling a bit blue this month, so I resorted to my last resort- spending some time actually being still with my Father. Ironically, I have been building a class on happiness (or joy)- and realized I was deeply craving joy. Has it been a long time since you felt real joy? Me too.  Hello, 2020- you’re really something. 

As I was praying about my sense of discouragement (weariness?)- I had the image of my scratched arms and legs come to mind. I visualized all the things I had experienced over the last year. My devoted and neurotic dog slowly became paralyzed and died. January and February were filled with terrible concern for a deeply suffering child. March ushered in the pandemic and quarantine. April, May, and some of June were a flurry of activity as I tried to offer compassion to overwhelmed and stressed out college students. It doesn’t seem like compassion-fatigue should be a thing when you’re only offering compassion via email. It is.

Our community is in a drought, which I find evidence of each time I turn on my lawn sprinklers and see the sputtering water pressure. My grandmother is also moving to assisted living next week. Her (our) family ranch- where I spent so much of my childhood, is being sold. It is the end of an era, and all of it- aging, loss, and endings, makes me very sad. 

I was (and am) thoroughly burned out. And frustrated with myself for being on “empty”. There is a temptation to compare my life and so-called “hardships” to other people who experience real and honest tragedies. But suffering is never meant to be compared. It just is. 

The heart knows its own distress; another person can’t share its joy (Proverbs 14:10, CEB).

Healing Starts with Acknowledging

I have noticed that, as I get older, skin wounds (especially on my legs) take a long time to heal. Scratches tend to turn purple, then stay purple for months. This is a minor, cosmetic inconvenience, but I have wondered what my body is trying to say with its reduced capacity to erase wounds. 

One very helpful thing I learned this year is that the older one gets- the more protein is needed for proper healing. I’ve made it my mission to max out my protein intake, and that is definitely helping. This is healing from the inside out. Another trick is scar gel- which contains an ingredient that helps to fade the visible signs of an old wound. I apply scar gel almost every night after a bath. It requires noticing the old wound, acknowledging it, caring for it, and then… forgetting about it. Until the next day, and starting over. This is healing from the outside in.

When it comes to healing, God’s grace (His unconditional, unwavering love for me, and you) shines through two contrasting but equally necessary truths.

  1. The Physician. God has an unfathomable ability to love. He is love. And He expresses that love towards me in every beautiful form: protection, compassion, understanding, and lion-like fervor. Healing. He alone has the power to create real healing. He is the doctor, and His supply of daily love (as in- one day at a time)- is the protein I need to get better. The responsibility is on His shoulders to supply my needs. Thankfully, His spirit lives inside me- quick to guide and affirm me in His love. A protein-POWER bar, if you will, ready to be consumed whenever needed. Healing from the inside out.
  2. The Patient. The other dimension of God's grace is my own simple humanity. I am a created being, formed out of dirt, needy and wound-able. Sometimes we honor God and all His majesty, but forget to also honor our low humanness. We are humans who get hurt. Sometimes in a million tiny ways. Sometimes in really big, traumatic ways. If you are like me, you may not even notice the wounds- until you sit down and be still to take stock. But Jesus identifies with our humanity, He has compassion for it, He lived it, and He covers it with His own perfection. Not one millimeter of our humanity remains untreated. Healing- from the outside in.

Healing is available from every angle, every avenue, everywhere you look. In my quiet time, I imagined Jesus gently smoothing scar gel on my arms and legs. I imagined Him personally soothing the hundred cares and concerns I have had since 2020 burst onto the scene. Imagine- the man (God) who suffered unbearable physical wounds- tending lovingly and attentively to my own minor ones. I imagined Him providing healing to my struggling students, my family, our community and nation. I need His intervention to change things that I don’t have the power to change- drought, racism, cruelty, an accusatory culture, political divides. 

If you have a thousand cares which you have pushed away, unacknowledged or unnoticed- now is a good time to take stock. Go ahead and feel it all. Not to dwell, but just to acknowledge. Acknowledge your cares and allow God to gently treat them. There is a day coming when there will be no wounds, no scars, no need for healing (spiritual or physical) because all will be whole. Until then, eat the protein and apply the scar gel and just be a human. A greatly loved human.


Today's Core Belief

We have a powerful Healer who tends our wounds, large or small, from every direction.

Today's Action Step
Take the time to sit with your Father and write down the multitude of cares that 2020 has burdened you with. Acknowledge your neediness, and expect a game-changer.  Then throw away the paper- because those temporary wounds are now His responsibility. 

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