How Old is that Wound, Exactly?
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. 🙂
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.” And God said, “Who told you that you were naked?”
(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. 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.