Relentless Wounds in the Glorious Quest

knight-930817_640All good soldiers rise to their first wound. They expect it. Fresh off the battlefield, they accept the treatment – embrace the cure – grateful they will fight again.

It’s when the wound is reopened – not just once, but repeatedly, that the true warrior is revealed in the testing. Will he or she be able to press through the relentless cycle of rewounding that occurs when a war wages on?

My initial wound is a good story. I incurred it in battle – physical combat. Well, as close as I ever get to that.

To say I’m not athletic is to say that Meryl Streep enjoys acting. If sitting were an Olympic sport, I would gold medal for the U.S. But, in my early forties, I got up off my chair and spent several years training toward my black belt in karate.

Five minutes into the second hour of my final six-hour black belt test, I was sparring. That’s where two people throw punches and kicks at one another, not intending to cause injury, but definitely aiming to make contact. (The combatants generally wear protective gear.)

I was paired with my good friend, Tony, when I made the bonehead move of stepping right into his spinning back kick. I took it square to my sternum.

As I paused, windless, to absorb the full impact of the blow, my sensei came up behind and said, “If you walk off the floor, you’re out of the test.”

Now, I was, without argument, the worst student in my class. Truly remedial. Never the sparring partner anyone expected to win. But, four years of stinkin’ hard work was on the line and I wasn’t about to let Tony earn his black belt without me. So, I stayed on the dojo floor. Sparring. Push-ups. Kata. Practice falls. For four and three-quarter more excruciatingly agonizing hours.

I managed to push through the entire test with what I later learned was an injury known as costochondral separation – some of my ribs separated from my sternum. Not a preferred condition. Famously painful.

I spent weeks in extra-ordinary pain but now I know that, I – Miss Pillsbury Doughboy – I can keep fighting through Lethal Weapon-type pain. I can push past the wound and cross the finish line. Once.

Like I said, the first story is a good one.

The second time the wound resurfaced in brilliant agony is not a great story. I’d worked too long in the wrong position at my laptop. A blogging injury. That aggravated the former injury site resulting in costochondritis – painful, excruciating, but a dull tale.

Now, once again, the seatbelt injury from our spinout on the ice, has forced me to revisit the blinding, restrictive pain. And it’s made me think about relentlessly, reopened wounds.

Wounds sap strength. They require energy to cope with pain, to push past discomfort, to compensate for injury. Life is demanding enough without wounds. With them, it’s downright discouraging.

There’s something particularly disheartening about old wounds.

The victim is achingly familiar with the pain and the process of recovery. The boredom complicates the predicament. Comforters grow weary of comforting. Compassion fatigue grows evident in those closest to the victim. These things are bad enough.

But with every reopened wound, there are other temptations – fears that the wound will never heal, bitterness about the original occurrence, an openness to go to greater lengths and more ridiculous measures to speed healing, regret, self-reproach, blame.

All of these things requires energy, too, and that can rob a person of life – not in a flash, not in a brilliant death ray, but in a slow, imperceptible leak of soul.

God warns us to guard against bitterness, self-pity, blame, and obsessing over what is past. No one gets through this life without wounds. We all have them. Many of us rise to the initial wound. We go to God. We cooperate with the cure. We’re patient with healing.

That’s why Satan thrills at the revisited wound. He knows it makes us more susceptible to temptation than we were the first time, the second, or the third time. He knows how easy it will be for us to yield to those things that drain the energy we need to push past the wound and continue the work of building His kingdom. One of Satan’s favorite weapons is the spiritual battering ram.

So, for the third time now, I’m turning this wound over to God. I’m trusting Him enough to rest, to follow the course of treatment, and to receive healing. I’m putting a guard over my heart and mind against bitterness, anger, regret, self-pity, and blame. I’m letting God run the agenda of my wound – not the enemy.

And, I’m praying that God shows me the reopened wounds of my heart, mind, and soul that need His healing touch, too.

How about you? Do you wrestle with old wounds – physical or otherwise? How do you defend against soul-draining temptations? Where do you go for hope when the pain resurfaces?

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  1. I write this with tears. As I read this God showed me that my emotional walls are due to first wounds. I do not want to get hurt again and again and again. May Gods gentle healing consume me so that the walls fall down.