I love a good story; I particularly love stories of people who endured the impossible and made it to the end. Stories that go something like this “…….it was tough, we cried, we suffered, and it looked hopeless and impossible………. but in the end, we- made -it- type of stories”. Stories of people who overcome horrible trauma but made it to the other side. In the same vein I also love a good underdog story, stories about how the odds were stacked up against the protagonist but somehow, they made it through despite it all. I absolutely love these kinds of stories; they melt my heart and give me tears of joy to boot. Yes, I love stories where the person who was ruled out or worse neglected and forgotten, the so called “loser” emerges as the winner in the end; a survivor. I mean who doesn’t?
Interestingly enough, we are all survivors who in our own individual ways have survived something or the other. Furthermore, because we live in a world that celebrates survivors (which is a good thing), for a long time I assumed that the fat lady always sings once a survivor survives and makes it to the other side (the promised land). That all that matters was surviving. However, having lived a little, I now realise that surviving an ordeal, a tough season, poverty, a broken marriage, the death of a spouse or child, promiscuous father, a dysfunctional childhood or even damaging/reckless words spoken to you as a child, emotionally unavailable or cruel mother, an absent father, parents divorce/ separation, cruel step parent, the mistress chosen over your mother, being the child forced to raise their siblings, emotionally or physically abusive relationship, the death of (a child, spouse, parent, sibling), unwanted pregnancy, abortion, losing a job, impossible to please parent, sickness (a child, parent, sibling, spouse), poverty, bullying boss (classmates, workmates), singleness, alcoholic parent, a spouse’s or partner’s infidelity, the favourite “perfect sibling” always chosen over you, a critical spouse, divorce or failed marriage, rape, bareness, miscarriage, a disease, rejection ( from a parent, spouse, friend, boss, child), failure, a friend(sibling or parent)who failed to be there in your time of need etc., is only the beginning. Surviving is only part one, and even though on the outside you may look like you have it all together, surviving always takes its prisoners. You simply never leave a season of fire without burns. Yes, a survivor never makes it out unscathed, it always comes at a heavy cost: wounds.
When it comes to wounds, what is most scary at least to me, is that often times we are unaware about the wounds we carry as they are often invisible to our physical eyes. Indeed, we quickly celebrate the end of a season and jump right into something new like clockwork. Nevertheless, if wounds are left untreated, they begin to fester and to work silently in the shadows to slowly destroy everything we used to be bit by bit. They have a way of seeping into one’s soul and quickly takes over. It’s like an invasion; an assault on all one’s senses, both emotionally and physically. It’s an ambush, and we are often so busy living our “best life” that we are not aware or even prepared to protect our turf. Eventually, the wound gives birth to dysfunctions which include everything from unhealthy habits, philosophies, and personality traits. This dysfunction quickly become part of us and change the makeup of our God given personality, dreams, and even the lens through which we view life. Soon you cannot tell where you end and where the dysfunction begins. So much so that when people meet you for the first time, they meet your dysfunction as the real you died in survival mode, and is now buried deep beneath the rubble of a past season. Further, we also become so wrapped up in the self-deceit of “that is just how I am, I cannot change,” and become blind to our own actions. Often, we are unable to see the trail of destruction that we weave in our lives as a result of wounds we do not even know exist. Ironically, we are quick to blame other people for the fruit that we bear because of the resulting dysfunctions from our wounds, yet we are the common denominator and the active sower in our own life.
So yes, you survived, but the person who you were once before is no longer there. Once upon a time you used to be soft, but now you are so hard and always spoiling for a fight or a confrontation with anyone who will give you the time of day. You used to believe and be hopeful, but now you are pessimistic and refuse to be vulnerable even to those who love you, you basically let no one in. You keep saying you want to be in a relationship, but when in one you are unavailable, untrusting and don’t believe that it can last, so you unintentionally sabotage it or you pick non-starter people to be in a relationship with. It’s almost as if your hidden desire is to fail at relationships. You used to believe in yourself but now you cower every time you need to stand up and fight for you. You used to love yourself but now you spend your days trying to be someone else but yourself. You used to be an occasional drinker, but now you cannot go to bed or start your day without a drink. You used to eat for nutritional purposes, but now eating has become a hobby. You used to believe in others, but now you are always waiting for people to disappoint you and to prove that they are all bad. You used to be dependable and faithful, but now your word means nothing to those who love you most. You used to be so happy- go- lucky, but now anything can set you off as you cannot control you anger. You used to want to have a good marriage, but you keep being attracted and dating men who are the spitting image of your promiscuous father, and who constantly break your heart like your father did to your mother. You swore you would never be like your father, but now you are an absent father to you child or children or the unfaithful husband. You swore you would never be like your mother “the nice little wife who was cheated on and left for the mistress” that you would have a husband who is faithful to you, now you are the mistress breaking people’s homes. You were raised in a home where your parents practised favourites, and you grew up believing that you were never good enough unless you were like the “chosen sibling”. As a result, you have learnt to never be yourself, and are now walking around this earth being everyone else but never truly being you. Further, you are now a parent and doing the exact same thing to your own children, playing favourites and creating wounds for your next generation. You grew up in, or were in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship and swore you would never be in that kind of relationship again, now you are the perpetrator of abuse in your own relationships. It’s almost like you keep recreating your dark season over and over again unintentionally. You used to trust God, but after what “happened”, although you may not show it in church or in front of people, deep in the darkest and hidden corners of you heart you really don’t anymore.
When I think about the impact, no the legacy of wounds, the best example I can identify in the bible are the people of Israel after they were saved from over 400 years of slavery in Egypt by Moses through the guidance of God (Exodus 14). However, although, they survived the brutality and cruelty of slavery and made it out of Egypt, they still carried Egypt with them in their hearts and minds. They could not let it go, and in the end, although physically they were in a new season, emotionally they were still stuck in an old season. It did not matter that God had saved them or that they had survived and made it out, and that now they were free; they simply could not let go of the past. They continued to see life as if they were still slaves. Consequently, even after God parted the sea and lead them to freedom in the most glorious and magnificent way, at the first sign of uncertainty they built for themselves a golden calf and worshipped it (Exodus 32: 1-7). Then at the next sign of trouble they wished that they had remained in their life of slavery in Egypt. The implication being that they trusted their slave masters to provide for them, and that having to endure the discomfort of experiencing something new, freedom, and having to instead trust God who had freed them was akin to asking too much from there wounded souls (Exodus 16:2-3). It’s like they wanted to recreate the past, which even though they hated was comforting in its familiarity. Isn’t that how we also behave when we are in a new season and we feel lost, scared or anxious. I never used to understand why the Israelites would do such a thing, but now I understand that wounds that are not healed have a way of trying to recreate themselves over and over again in our lives. Its startling but a lot of survivors would rather recreate the dysfunction from their past unintentionally of course (most people are often unaware of this) because it is comfortable than having to face something new as it requires one to not only face their past, but faith.
I am sure that in their heart of hearts that the Israelites truly wanted to see the promised land, but their wounds from Egypt would not let them, they were broken and so dysfunctional that no matter how much they tried they could not trust God’s love for them and His promises. They simply did not know how to be free. In the end it cost them the promised land. I do not know about you, but that is very sobering for me. Regrettably, that is the true reflection of the type of life that most of us live. A lot of us, including me may be survivors, but find ourselves stuck in prisons of things that happened to us in our past. So yes, we survived, and are even successful in some respect, but we never get to experience total and complete freedom. We may even be regular church people who love God, but unfortunately never experience all the joys and blessing promised to us in the good book. Very scary right? That is why I want you to really think about it, yes you survived, but what did surviving cost you. Did it cost you your innocence, your healthy view of relationships or of God, your passion for life, your ability to forgive, did you lose the authentic version of yourself etc.? Interestingly enough, it’s not always easy to pick the dysfunction and to directly connect it to the wound. We are often unable to see with our naked eyes the trail of destruction that we have woven in our lives as a result of wounds we did not even know exist. And this is where the Holy Spirit comes in. If you cannot see with your physical eyes, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. In fact, it is only the Holy spirit who can help us know the wounds that we carry from previous seasons we survived, and show us how the wounds have affected our lives, and importantly, how to pray over and heal. Refuse to allow past wounds to destroy your future!
Today ask the Lord to open your eyes that you may truly see
2 Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Ephesians 1:17-18 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.
Luke 4: 18 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.
Proverbs 9: 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.