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How Old is that Wound, Exactly?

April 1, 2009

Thanks to all who contributed to the last post, it was interesting to hear of other people’s experiences as a teenager. It gave me hope…and made me wish that I had known some of you as a kid. πŸ™‚

There is this blog that I follow called “Stuff Christians Like,” which is take on the ever-witty “Stuff White People Like.” Most days, it starts my mornings with a giggle at the expense of all of us Jesus-lovers and all the minutiae that we obsess over (let’s face it, we need to be poked and made fun of once in awhile). Today, however, was different. The post this morning was like a deep bellow in my ear, prying my fingers off my ears with each word, confronting me with something I had been ignoring for years.

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”Β  And God said, “Who told you that you were naked?”
Genesis 3:10-11

(FYI, for those who don’t actually know me, that is not me.
Finding a picture of someone “not listening” did not give me a lot of options.)

Today, I realized that as much as I have grown into my own skin, I think there is still very much a part of me that is raw and wounded from the lies that flourished throughout my formative years, and I have never taken real time to grieve. There is still a part of me feels like I have to prove to everyone that I matter. It feels melodramatic to write that, but it’s exactly true.Β  I wish I could say that I am “so past that,” but in all honesty, I don’t think I ever will be, not entirely. Not as long as my heart is beating, my brain is making mistakes, and I am still a human being. I know in the deepest sense that God’s voice is my final word on who I am, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still ask the questions. Looking at myself, I see that there are still wounds, deep ones, that I have glossed over with Band-Aids and self-help books, but never really fully addressed and tried to heal. I can hear as many words of affirmation as I can hold from those around me, but I think this is ultimately something between me and Him. His is the only voice that can tell me what I need to hear, that can heal the wounds that I have so sloppily tried to cover up.

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books, and I remember the first time I read it in high school, the character of Jay Gatsby made me so sad. As a “self-made man,” his identity was rooted in creating a lavish life for himself that drew Daisy, the woman he loved, back into his arms. His entire being was focused around her validation of who he was, and when that failed, he just stopped caring. Instead of moving forward, trying to heal those wounds and refocusing himself, he assumed he had failed in the most ultimate sense, all that he had worked for wasn’t enough.

(Robert Redford made a fantastic Jay Gatsby.)

I love the last few lines of that book, and in the years since, as I have read and re-read it, these words haunt me each time:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter-tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning-
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

In the spirit of prevailing individualism that we all wade through, we’ve stopped taking time to grieve, to address the fact that we are wounded, messy, damaged human beings who can’t operate fully without some kind of healing. And healing takes pain and can sometimes be more painful than what caused the initial wound. But it is so necessary. Time numbs us, tricks us into thinking that it “heals all wounds,” and to a degree, that’s true. Perspective helps. But until we confront our wounds head-on, grieve them for what they cost us, we are like Gatsby, “boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

To end on a note of hope, listen to this. There’s beauty to be found, even in the pain.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    April 1, 2009 11:33 am

    This was great-and I do think that all women were once girls, all feel the same way. I still struggle also with trying to prove that I am this and not that. I have been is so many different positions with different people, I feel like I am finally finding the me, the me that surrounds myself with amazing people, the me that enjoys certain things I looked past before. But I agree that time wont make it all go away, there will always be the open wounds of the past. FYI-I think your amazing-beautiful and I admire you in so many ways. I hope that puts a band aid on at least one wound πŸ™‚

  2. Caroline permalink*
    April 1, 2009 12:25 pm

    Thank you, Amanda. I am so glad that you are in my life, and that we can help each other heal.

    You are a true, true blessing and encouragement, like human sunshine. πŸ™‚

  3. ratsekad permalink
    April 1, 2009 4:16 pm

    I read the Great Gatsby in high school as well. One quote that always stuck with me for some reason, even though it is not that amazing, is…

    “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

    I suppose it stressed the importance of being mindful and considerate of other people’s lives and not just your own. And maybe, though I don’t remember quite well, this could have been the first part of the book where Nick was critical of them. The whole book is kind of telling this about them without actually saying it, but you are thinking it, and then it is kind of like that YES moment when he comes out and says they are careless and mean people while you have been thinking it the whole time.

    But I could be wrong, it has been a long time since I have read it.

    Also, on time healing all wounds. For some reason, I have never really agreed with that idea.

    And then I watched the Kite Runner, which was a fantastic movie, and I am sure it is even more of a fantastic book. But at one point in the movie when something is bothering the boy, the father says, “Whatever’s going on, you should deal with it before too long. Take care not to let these things fester. Time will only make it worse.”
    I loved it when he said that, since people usually think the opposite. There are a lot of great quotes in that movie.

  4. Caroline permalink*
    April 1, 2009 5:22 pm

    I remember that line sticking out to me quite starkly too. I love the brutality of the honesty, because it’s not cruel but yet it still packs a punch. (And frankly, I’ve always wanted to punch Daisy a little…she’s so annoying. But since I’m not violent, I probably would just silently roll my eyes at her.)

    I want to see/read “The Kite Runner,” I’ve heard such good things about it.

    And also — I am glad someone else disagrees with time healing all wounds. You have to confront your wounds, wrestle with them and pin them to the ground, otherwise it’s just blood seeping out from under the proverbial Band-Aid, infecting you further. Ok sorry, that was a little bit of a gross metaphor. You know what I mean.

    Spring makes me want to read Steinbeck and Steinbeck makes me want to hang with you, grab a beer, and talk about life. Ingersoll might have to become a reality this summer. I wonder what it’s like…

  5. Glo permalink
    April 3, 2009 9:42 pm

    This fits in very well with the series that Rob is teaching, I listened to two in a row today πŸ™‚ Very well written!

  6. Caroline permalink*
    April 3, 2009 10:52 pm

    I was thinking of the series on Lamentations while I was writing this, actually. πŸ™‚ I suppose in a small way, it’s the beginning of my lament. Those are important, I think.

    It was so lovely to see you last weekend — and thanks again for my beautiful scarf. I’ve been wearing it all week and getting lots of compliments. πŸ™‚

    Love love.

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