The Wounded Healer

I have always been a huge fan of Henri Nouwen. His books always seem to speak to me at the right time and place. Recently, I came across his book “Wounded Healer” and it seems so incredibly appropriate for my one word “heal”.

Nouwen writes, “Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.”

“Jesus is God’s wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus’ suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.”

When 2018 began, I had no idea how heavy and hard it would be. Then in March, my friend Ben died. Shortly after that, a beloved seminary professor Ralph Quere. Then Ben’s brother Aaron followed by my friend and youth ministry colleague Rachel. Not long after Rachel, it was my friend Paul’s wife Stephanie and then our beloved family friend Jim. Then in December, my beloved Grandpa Wilbert. It seemed I would just catch my breath and then news of another death would come my way. In my 40 years of life, I never expected 2018 to be filled with so much loss and grief; too many deaths way too unexpectedly.

Recently a friend asked me, “Are you becoming a grief expert?” I sat back reflecting on her words. I don’t want to be a grief expert, but the more I think about I think I might be. I have learned so much about loss and grief in my 40 years of life. I have learned what loss and grief look like after an unexpected job loss or a death. In all actuality, grief is the changing of a relationship. It is a hymn, a broken pair of sunglasses, an unopened Christmas card and so much more. In addition, I have experienced grief through living as the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness.

According to Wikipedia, the theology of the cross is a term coined by theologian Martin Luther to refer to theology that posits the cross as the only source of knowledge concerning who God is and how God saves. In other word, only God has the power to save Christ from the depths of the grave. Only God has the power to overcome death and the grave. “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there (Clarence W Hall).”

My hope is to come out of 2019 much more whole than what I went into this year. The reality is that I am a wounded healer who can be a shoulder to cry on, who can stand with others in their own grief and so much more. In the words of Henri Nouwen, my own losses and grief have made me a wounded healer called to share God’s love with the world.

As a wounded healer, I am seeing myself and the world with a new set of lens.

“I had my own notion of grief. I thought it was the sad time that followed the death of someone you love. And you had to push through it to get to the other side. There is no pushing through. But rather, there is absorption. Adjustment. Acceptance. And grief is not something you complete, but rather you endure. Grief is not a task to finish and move on, but an element of yourself–an alteration of your being. A new way of seeing. A new definition of self.” (Gwen Flowers)

Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup and Mary and Tell His Story!

20 thoughts on “The Wounded Healer

  1. Oh yes. Tara, I don’t want to be a grief expert, but the more I think about it, I think I might be.

    Maybe not about grief but I have been in this very place with pain and disappointment. God takes us through these things so that we can pay it forward. We would rather not have to experience these things but in the midst of it, we are becoming like Christ… Great comforters.

  2. I loved that book by Henri Nouwen. I borrowed it from my Pastor, and took copious notes, because I did not know how long I would have until I had to return it! Those notes are packed in together with another one of his, “The Return of the Prodigal.” Nouwen has a way of turning our thinking inside out, and I was so blessed by that. Thank you for stirring my memory; I think I may need to go uncover my old notes again, from within my own current season of loss and change. I love your word of “heal.” May God bless you this new year!

  3. You are indeed a healer who is learning to share through the tears the peace and comfort that only God can give. 2010 was like that for me with 10 family members and friends moving to Heaven. Love how you keep sharing transparently. Hugs and comfort to you and yours.


  4. Tara, I love this! God has taught you so much through the grief you have experienced and are experiencing. I think you are well qualified to be a “Wounded Healer”. We don’t have to know it all or have it all together to be able to help others. We just share from our own experiences and from God’s word. Blessings, love and hugs to you, dear Tara.

  5. I love this question —> ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ That is powerful and one that I need to wrap my head around.

    As for being a grief expert, I’m not sure if that is the title you want, but I believe God is going to use you to walk others through their own journeys of healing.

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