Saturday, November 20, 2010


This business of wounds and serving others out of our own healed wounds is critically important for anyone who is called to do any kind of ministry (therefore, all Jesus-followers). Many years ago Henri Nouwen wrote The Wounded Healer, a marvelous little book that deals specifically with this topic. This idea was also at the root of my book on the Exodus (see picture at right -- click on it to go to the Amazon site). The adventure of writing that book was a struggle with transparency. "How much of this story am I willing to tell?" Not just about the big hurts, but about the little ones that are so often much easier to sweep under the carpet. As I wrote the book, I often wondered what people would think of me when they wrote it. For example, I love hunting, especially bowhunting. But I have not been a successful bowhunter in terms of taking deer or other big game. In fact, at the time I wrote the book, I had never taken a deer with my bow. In the company of other hunters, would I be diminished if I admitted this in such a public way? It worried me. But it was true, and so I wrote it into the book.

Actually, I wrote many such details about my life into the book, and in the course of editing, most of them were cut out. I nurtured a secret hope that my editor would insist on cutting the business about bowhunting -- she was not a very outdoors person -- but for some reason she found the story poignant and meaningful and she kept it in.

In the end, the book became transformative for me, if for no one else. The process of writing down my own journey through difficulties, through pain, from the slavery of old hurts to the freedom of God's gracious love, was a powerful process for me. I faced another similar challenge the first time I taught a class on the book, because it felt like now, two years after writing it, I would end up dredging it all up again. But God knows his stuff, and healing comes not only as we reveal ourselves to others, but also as we begin to work in those wounds and give others the freedom to see who we truly are behind our masks.

By the way, I think it is a gift of God (and not without some amazing irony) that, the fall of 2008, a few months after this book was finished -- it was written in the winter of 2007-2008 -- I sat on a deer stand shaking like a leaf, working through target panic and buck fever and all the rest, to make the shot that ended in me recovering my first deer taken by archery. I received that experience as God's concrete example that transparency brings a new level of healing.

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