“A wounded healer is someone who can listen to a person in pain without having to speak about his or her own wounds.”
— Henri Nouwen (1932–1996)
It’s not often we need them in life, but the wounded healer, however scarce a commodity he or she is, has eternal value. Perhaps you know one. Perhaps you are one. Maybe your own wounds have compelled you to find healing in the healing of others, but not through feeling good about helping them, or having to share your own burdens, but through that resplendent sense of knowing God’s harmony in suffering.
This is a queer thing to describe. It is most certainly the reversal of all blessings; God has blessed us in our suffering such that we seek others in their suffering, and by comforting them we are reconnected to a time when we were never closer to God. Our joy is connected, ironically as it may be, to suffering.
God’s richest blessing to the wounded healer may actually be their suffering.
Having been brought to their knees, humbled beyond prior recognition, these were transformed in a moment or over a season into new beings; yes, new creations!—with new God-propelled purpose.
What is designed for the wounded healer is the task of nursing the wounds of the broken-hearted. But such a nursing is not the case of a world’s fashion of nursing.
The wounded healer will nurse according to the unspoken needs of the other person as God ushers his Presence in and through the healer such that the broken-hearted are comforted. Can this be explained? I think not. Only the wounded healer really knows. Only those who have been therapeutically recast have the idea/s that worked for them.
The wounded healer, therefore, works differently in every situation, by the discernment of the Spirit within them, within the broken-hearted, and in the space between them. These three dimensions God works by unknown healing agencies, especially when the wounded healer gets out of the way.
Getting out of the way is shelving the narcissistic ego, and dispelling for any moment that they have an answer to the conundrum of this moment’s suffering. The wounded healer is a vessel who, in their obedience, God uses. The process of healing, which is good for a moment or perhaps a season, is a mystery to human beings; they cannot take any credit other than for being obedient to God; for being available for the usage.
Nursing the wounds of the broken-hearted—the job of the wounded healer—is about listening, and that might seem patronisingly obvious. They do not listen with their ears alone, but with every cell in their being. They may notice with their eyes, but their hearts verify, and the heart is never completely certain, as it’s too busy following hard after God.
The greatest desire of healing for the wounded heart is a moment’s peace—that understanding and a fresh acceptance has been reached. When a wounded soul has been heard, and this is beyond ‘hearing’, they at once stare at their truth whilst knowing compassion.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.