Tuesday, September 8, 2015

When Our Hearts are Burned

Recently my husband got second degree burns from his knee to his toes. I couldn't help myself, because as gross and painful as the injury was, the life application was nearly oozing from the sores.  (See what I did there?!)

How he got burned probably matters far less than what the healing process was like. 
And the healing process was painful - shockingly - painful.

The doctor had to keep assuring us that the pain was actually a good thing.  I don't know that you could have convinced him of that by day four.  Because the pain felt like a bad thing - like a "Are you going to lose your foot?" sort of bad thing.  

I am getting ready to speak at a retreat in two weeks and God keeps impressing on my heart this idea of being open to Him.  And somehow, I keep thinking about my husband's burned leg.

There are so many areas of my life where I am not open because I have been burned.  Many of those areas, I have neglected to clean - because uncovering the hurt, even to then again cover it in medicated salve, was too painful. And because I didn't, a lot of those places are still open and raw.

Here is where my annoying habit to see everything as a life application becomes painfully relevant, because I have to ask; "What if my pain is actually a good thing? Proof there is still life?  Proof my heart could be healed"?

Check out each stage of the process of healing on his leg and see if the life application doesn't hold true for our burned hearts:
  • The initial burn hurt, but it took a few hours for the blisters to show up.  The first blisters were large and ugly, however, it seemed that they would be contained to a three inch diameter.  Yet, the skin continued to blister and peel off. Days after the burn first took place his lower leg had blistered and peeled so many times, there was actually less of his leg covered with skin than there were areas that were exposed, raw, and open. 
Isn't it the same for our hearts?  When the initial "burn" comes at us, it hurts and it doesn't usually take long to see the first obvious sores. I am sometimes quick to deal with the initial hurt by band-aiding it:  "It's fine" "No problem" "I shouldn't have...."  "That person is just a...."  "Whatever...."
However, sometimes the "burn" is just too deep to respond to those quick methods, and while I just said "It's fine", I feel far less than fine.  Maybe I am angry, scared, hurt, sad; maybe all four.  But, the second I admit I am not "just fine" it seems to spread.  If I go to really deal with the one large blister, it turns out there are many other blisters popping up. And, every time another one shows, it also peels away and more of my soul is exposed and raw.
  • After the blister is opened, it has to be cleaned - everyday and the sores are very susceptible to infection.
Just like our hearts. Once they have been opened, they have to be cleaned - everyday - for they are very susceptible to infection. The pain involved in that cleaning can be overwhelming - but if we don't open them up in front of God, again, and again - the Holy Spirit cannot, again and again, place His healing touch on our rawest parts - the parts that are in need of the most of His love, the most of His mercy, the most of His grace.
And, if we don't protect those places with God's very real love; they are left exposed to the lies that we use to medicate ourselves - and those lies can cause dangerous infection.

How much healing do we leave on the table because we are desperate to avoid the pain?  How much more pain do we cause because we won't submit to healing?
  • Finally, the new pink skin begins to grow again, and with that growth, nerves also begin to grow back. 
Consider the areas where you have been burned and what happens as you begin to experience healing.  Healing comes with feeling, And, feeling with new exposed nerves can be shockingly painful. This is the stage we need the doctor who can assure us. "The pain is good.  It is a sign of health, of life. It won't last forever.  This is normal. You are not alone".
This is the time we need the doctor to tell us to keep going, keep cleaning.

  • How incredible to consider that even after that pink skin has completed its job and covered the entire burn; you will still have to be protective of it in the sun or when you find yourself once again near a fire. 
I only know how to demonstrate this with an example; My husband has been dealing with my pink and sensitive heart for the last few years, because it was only in the last few years that I began to enter in to some of the deeply burned places in my heart.  When we start to get near conversation that is hard for me to talk about, I once again feel the fresh newness of those places in my heart.  The fear that those places will be burned again is intense, and so is the desire to run away from the situation.  I am cautious, and thank you Jesus, so is my husband; because we both know that living life away from the things that might hurt - is not living at all.    
  • Eventually, the skin becomes whole again - and as time goes on, less sensitive. 
This is the hope.  Any place that we let God heal, still has life left in it.  Those places that I have experienced healing are free to feel again, free to hope.  And, the further into the healing I get, the more my heart is able to handle and experience.

I am deeply convinced that Jesus is relevant in all of our burned places - that He desires our healing; He came to set us free, and in Himself, make us whole.

At the same time, I am equally convinced that this type of healing will hurt - really, really hurt.  Like "am I going to lose my leg" kind of hurt.  Being raw is painful and it is scary.

But, it is time.
We are ready for healing.
We can no longer hobble around.  We have things to do in this world, people to love on. Our burns have placed us on the sideline.

God is real and He is relevant.
Letting Him heal our burned places means that we believe who He is.
And, when we believe, we are powerful.

Do you see that we avoid His power for some made-up version of our own?  A weak substitute that only offers us the illusion that we can keep ourselves from hurting?

Friends, it's going to hurt.
But the pain might just be the evidence of life you and I both need.
Keep fighting. Healing is coming.