Tuesday, May 25, 2010

When the wounded heal

I just finished watching the end of season episode for the show Parenthood. To make a long story short, the teenage daughter of a single mom ran away. There are tremendously intertwined relationships in this show, as there are in all families. The daughter ran away because had made some bad choices that included sleeping with her cousin's boyfriend. Yikes. Thing is, the family's problems (which were more connected to the grandparents) were all focused on the young girl. Add to that the culpability of the boy that was not acknowledged, and you have a kid who feels like running is the only option. What I found truly beautiful and Christlike is that when the girl was found, it was her cousin who ran to her first. Similar themes of confession and forgiveness followed and flowed through the family. Not all the problems were solved, but their divisions were turned into opportunities for greater strength.

Henri Nouwen wrote about the strength given us through following the pattern of Christ in his classic work, The Wounded Healer. Nouwen states that Christ has been wounded on on our behalf, and their is no greater power of redemption than that which comes from the one we have harmed. Likewise there is no greater opportunity to offer grace than by looking to the ones who have harmed us. Nouwen writes:
“The [person] who can articulate the movements of [their] inner life, who can give names to [their] varied experiences, need no longer be a victim [theirself], but is able slowly and consistently to remove the obstacles that prevent the spirit from entering. [They] are able to create space for Him whose heart is greater then [theirs], whose eyes see more than [theirs], and whose hands can heal more then [theirs].”
We live in a world that equates justice with retribution. What if we could see it another way? What if we could see our own suffering as a chance to partner with Christ in the redemption God is already bringing about?

Sure, there are egregious sins. There is evil in the world that must be restrained with force. Yet there is a call to be vulnerable that goes alongside it. There is a limit to how far we can go on restraining the monster without becoming one ourselves. Ultimately, I am all I have control over, and that control is always limited. The question is, will my control be limited by my reaction to others or by my response to being forgiven?

I know one thing. The most beautiful expression of love I have seen is when the wounded offer forgiveness to their offenders. This is what Christ has done for me. I pray that I can do the same for others.

Shalom.
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