Jesus welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. Luke 9:1
People live for many years with what might be called “open wounds.” Open wounds are places where we feel stuck by the memory of a particular pain. These memories, still active in our hearts, trigger fears in us that such injuries will reoccur. Even minor wounds in life can result in unresolved stresses that end up determining, much more than we realize, the way we respond to the world and to others.
Open wounds prevent us from fully embracing freedom. They act like a tether that keep us from moving forward. We feel apprehensive about life and less hopeful about the future because our unresolved pains are always suggesting to our imagination the threat of imminent danger.
If this description of an “open wound” resonates in your life, there is a prayer for healing based on the Ignatian prayer of Examen that might be helpful for deepening your dialogue with Jesus in these areas. Here are some steps to lead you in this prayer of Examen.
· Begin your prayer by first placing yourself in the loving presence of God. Here you are reminded that you have always been loved and that, even in the realization that an “open wound” exists in you, there is a potential gift from God that will help you grow in your faith if you are willing to accept it. You may need the Lord’s help before you are able to fully accept these difficult experiences as gifts from God. Allow whatever time is necessary to “negotiate” this first crossroads of grace.
· Ask next for the courage to “take up your cross” in order to accept this experience of life as the very place where you might seek and find the Lord. Ask Jesus to meet with you there for it is likely that you have long excluded Him from this area of your life, or assumed He is more distant from your wound than He actually is. In prayer ask instead for a new relationship to this narrative—to see your wound as something that Jesus is fully aware of and that He cares deeply about.
· Ask next for a deeper understanding of what the Lord might wish to show you—not only for insight but also for the ability to embrace whatever God reveals to you. Are you prepared to accept your “open wound” as part of the truth of who you presently are? Speak honestly with Jesus about what you are feeling as you revisit this wound.
· Because you are no longer trying to manage your wound—to heal or protect yourself—you are now more prepared to let Jesus minister to you. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in this process, following wherever He might lead you and stopping wherever He would have you note something particular regarding this wound. Let God gently untangle the tight knots of your painful history. Spiritual healing is a slow and subtle process. It takes time for this type of prayer to evolve naturally.
· Whenever the Lord shines His light on a particular event related to your “open wound” do not overly analyze it, nor jump too quickly to a solution. You should simply pay attention to your feelings, acknowledging and bringing these insights into your dialogue with Jesus. Ask the Lord to show how faith can be applied to this otherwise fearful memory.
· When you have finished your prayer ask Jesus to sustain the hope you have regarding this process, and to protect you from the despair you might otherwise feel around this topic. Be willing and resolved to return again to this dialogue as often as the Lord requires.
The healing of our “open wounds” is a slow and deliberate work. A sustained faith will help us remain in the hands of the Physician long enough for a relationship of healing to take place. We must learn to approach our open wound less as a problem to be solved and more as a place of dialogue with Jesus about the truth of who we are and who we are becoming. As we enter these places with an open posture we will be led to a more genuine encounter with grace. Gratitude for the God who works out His salvation in our lives will eventually replace the hopelessness of our wounds.
Rob Des Cotes
Imago Dei Christian Communities
(written for March 19, 2015)
FOR GROUP DISCUSSION:
1. In what ways are you afraid of life, or with regards to the future? Can you trace this fear to some past injury?
2. What relationship do you presently have to these wounds? In what ways do they overly determine your responses to life? How do they curtail your freedom?
3. How does the slow and deliberate process of this prayer inspire hope in you? In what ways does the memory of past failures to heal yourself quench this hope?
FOR PRAYER: Take a full week (or longer) to explore this prayer with regards to a particular open wound in your life. Observe closely the process by which God untangles the knots that such injuries have caused in you. Once you have established a deep and lasting relationship with Jesus at the place of your wound ask the Lord if there are other areas of your life where He would like you to also apply this prayer.