“Mommy, Mommy, I got a boo-boo!”
Piper, my toddler, had been playing next door with our neighbor and her sister’s kids, running around in sandals. When she arrived home, she greeted me with her wound announcement.
Sure enough, she had a bleeding scratch on her foot, probably caused by a stick or something she had run over in her busyness. I set her up on the bathroom sink to clean the wound.
“Ouch! Ouch!” Ever on the alert for dramatic flair to add to her little life, she added sound effects and struggle that only prolonged the process.
“Do you need a Band-Aid?” I asked, knowing she would respond affirmatively. She firmly believes that Band-Aids fix boo-boos, even if boo-boos are only imagined.
As I stuck the Band-Aid on her foot (with not a little help from my independent miss, who insisted on unwrapping the fix herself), I told her I was sorry that she had gotten hurt. And I was sorry. I wished I could tell her that she wouldn’t get hurt again. I started to tell her that I wished she hadn’t gotten hurt this time, especially not when she was playing. I started to tell her she needed to be more careful.
Something stopped me, though.
She was sorry she’d gotten hurt, but couldn’t wait to get back outside to play. She didn’t need sympathy for her pain. She wanted to go back to living.
Instead of offering the cautionary sympathy on the tip of my tongue, I found myself saying wistfully to her innocence: “Life is like that. We get hurt the most when we’re really living.”
God Who Wounds
Everything in my growing-mother’s heart wants to keep my children from the wounds I have known: disappointed hopes, broken hearts, physical limitations, repeated failures. I have lived long out of my own wounds, and they keep me caged and quiet at times so that I don’t even know what I want because I won’t risk myself and my heart beyond the safety I have chosen.
But when I go before the Lord to ask Him for the abundant life Jesus came to give, I come face to face with God who wounds that He might heal. I encounter a God who guarantees that His people will suffer, because who are we to think that we won’t suffer as our Master suffered?
“They have persecuted Me; they will persecute you,” Jesus promised.
The suffering we face isn’t always persecution, either.
Very shortly after my second child was born, someone I didn’t know found out that her baby had died in her womb. I had recently discovered that she lived in my town, and, hungry for some real-life connection with an in-the-flesh girlfriend, I had initiated a meet. Two days later, she broke news on her blog that broke my heart with hers.
We decided to wait on the meeting — time and emotion were against us. Her very deep wound opened a path into my own fear, and as I held my newborn son to my breast and welcomed his smiles from his fifth day in my arms, there was caution in my joy. I didn’t mean to wall myself off from him, but I couldn’t embrace him so fully as I wanted.
I read this woman’s story, following her heart through the ultrasound discovery, through the memories of her labor, through her first and last sight of her daughter’s face, through the scattering of her ashes on a beach I have visited. I thought, How does she go one with this reality? How can she say this goodbye?
I prayed, “God, why?”
My own son was strong and healthy; why had her daughter been weak to die before she breathed? I clutched my baby to me hoping he’d love me, then I held myself back from him, fearing inevitable loss; I prayed for God to come near me and love me, then I pushed Him away for lack of a guarantee.
What kind of love would tear a heart apart in such a seemingly senseless manner?
But what kind of love would plan for His own Son to die?
By His Wounds We Are Healed
My friend — for she was a friend after I had read her heart, not someone I didn’t know — kept writing, counting first the days, then the weeks since her baby had died, until her baby was supposed to be in her arms. I watched, transfixed, as she changed overnight. Hope began to slip into her grieving, life went on for her, and there were three sons she was loving more than she had loved them before her wound.
Something was happening in her heart, and as I continued to follow her journey, I couldn’t help but gather my own courage to breathe past my fear, to offer my love anyway, to open my wounded heart up to my own children. She wrote of messy rooms, unscheduled days, and long-porch reflections. I dared to release my guilt over my own unkempt house, my unpredictable two-kid schedule, my moments alone.
She wrote of a longing inside each of us, something that doesn’t feel quite right until it finds satisfaction in the love of God, something in her that hadn’t found such satisfaction until He had taken her daughter to His heart. Her pain staggered me. But God’s work in her heart brought me to my knees and dared me up again to live outside my fear of loss.
Jesus came to bring abundant life, but to give life, He first had to die.
It is by His wounds that my deep sin-wound is healed. It is through His pain that I gain joy. The guilt that He bore in my place allows me shame-free peace.
What kind of love, indeed?
Paul prayed that he would get to enter the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. He wanted the life-wounds that would quicken him and set him apart for the resurrection of the dead. He willingly chose to forget what old wounds he bore and pressed on into the face of his own death, that he might be with the Lord (Phil. 3:7-21).
If I am to live, I cannot cling to the idea of a wound-free life. Really living as God has promised that I may live will leave me open to all His sorrow — and all His joy.
About a week after Piper came to me with her boo-boo, I noticed her scabbed-over wound while we were sitting together on the couch. I asked her if she knew what the scab was.
“A boo-boo!” She responded quickly, preparing her drama again. I kissed it and told her, “This is a God Band-Aid, just for Piper. Wasn’t He so good to make a way to make your boo-boo better?”
Article photo copyright © 2010 Kelly Sauer. Used with permission.
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