Wounded Healers or Wounded Wound-ers
Speak life, not death.
I woke up earlier this week with ideas running through my head about a topic for an article. “Wounded healers” vs. “wounded wound-ers.” That seemed interesting. We are all wounded as human beings. Wounded by original sin. Wounded by our actual sins. Wounded by other people and their sins. Wounded by life’s circumstances. Since the fall of mankind in the garden of Eden, being wounded is part of the human condition.
I waded into some internet research on the topic, only to discover that the terminology had already been co-opted by people with a different perspective. On the one hand was the “Jungian psychological archetype” of the “wounded healer.” On the other hand was a book by a troubled priest who apparently struggled with his sexuality, had a nervous breakdown, and experimented with New Age spirituality late in life. I had no desire to dig deeper in either direction! But there had to be some truth in the topic that the Holy Spirit put on my heart.
As I reflected more on the topic this week, I realized that true healing is only available for us in and through Jesus Christ. We receive healing as we grow in Christ. We receive healing in prayer. We receive healing through others who minister Christ to us. We receive healing in the Sacraments, where we receive grace directly from Jesus Christ and receive His Body and Blood in Holy Communion. St. Paul actually describes this process: we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another.1
To be truly healed is to become more and more like Jesus.
It also seemed intuitive to me that we, as Christians, should want to be in the “wounded healer” camp rather than the “wounded wound-er” camp. We should not want to wound other people, but I had to acknowledge that I have wounded others in my woundedness. My wounds have been a doorway to get angry at others or lash out. My wounds are the opening to losing my patience with others. My wounds have led me to seek pleasure or gratification in ways not in alignment with the Law of God, wounding both myself and others in the process. I end up feeling like St. Paul, who said “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”2 What is the answer?
Like so much of the spiritual life, the transition from inflicting wounds on others to instead ministering healing to others from the presence of the Lord within us is a process. It is the paradox of the Christian faith that death itself brings about life. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”3 Jesus teaches us that we must die to self. It is through death to self in Christ that we find healing and life.4
St. Peter explained how this paradox operates in the death of Jesus to bring about healing in our lives: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.5 Likewise, the Prophet Isaiah foretold this glorious mystery: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.6
We manifest where we are on our journey along the process of healing in Jesus by how we love others.7 This is one area where we can see whether we are bearing good fruit.8 A key difference between a “wounded healer” and a “wounded wound-er” is whether we are “speaking life” or “speaking death” to those around us. Death and life are in the power of the tongue.9
Here are a few Scriptures to reflect upon—you can share others in the comments.
Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.10
Do not speak evil against one another, brethren.11
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one.12
Be kind to one another.13
Encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.14
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.15
In Christ, our wounds become our strength. They become a channel of God’s power and grace, rather than an open door for sin. But this takes place only when we are truly living in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. Only then are we are capable of ministering the healing love of Jesus to others. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.16
This is our mission for today—to love our neighbor and speak life to them. It is through the life of prayer that we behold the glory of the Lord and are transformed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another. Then our wounds become united to Jesus Christ and His life and healing power can touch those around us.
May the love of Jesus Christ touch your deepest wounds today and bring healing through the power of anointing of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Eric A. Welter is an employment lawyer and trial attorney with a long-time devotion to intercessory prayer. He is a Catholic Christian who has been involved with intercessory and healing prayer ministry for over twenty years. The Abound in Hope Ministry website is https://www.aboundinhope.org/ministry.
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Luke 6:45 (The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.)