Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Dirty Gauze and Sticky Tape: Healing Emotional Wounds

He wore it like a badge of honor. Medals for valor and bravery in the face of battle couldn’t hold more significance for a 7-year-old. He had, after all, vanquished some foe or performed some death-defying act of fearlessness while in his outside playtime world. Unfortunately, with all this bravado came the inevitable skinned knee and shin.

My youngest son, Curt, sat before me on the edge of the bathroom sink as I cleaned the soiled wound. “Blood ... real blood!” His deep, dark brown eyes sparkled through the dirt and grime on his face, showing his childish delight at the sight of the red fluid. His momentary winces of discomfort gave way to wide-eyed smiles that revealed the significance of this event.

“Cool!” his satisfied expression said.

Through his pain, his pride swelled. Sure, he was hurting — but it felt good! In his mind, this moment was really special!

I was preparing to send him on his way after a thorough cleaning when he suddenly stopped and realized that daddy had not given him his full reward. With a trembling lip, he reminded me that he needed a bandage — a recognition of his conflict, a reminder of his conquest, and a centerpiece of conversation for all of his friends.

The scrape on his knee and shin was several scratches that ran in an odd three-inch lengthwise pattern from his knee toward his foot. The inch-wide sterile strips we normally used for “ow-ies” would not easily cover this wound. After rifling through the bathroom cabinets for larger strips, I came across two four-inch square gauze pads in their waxpaper-like protective wrappings. “Too big,” I thought. This would certainly be too much bandage for such a minor wound. Yet there were no other sterile strips to be used.

After a brief moment of indecision over which kind of bandage to use, I finally squeezed some antibiotic ointment on the square of gauze and pressed it to his leg. I cut two generous strips of white medical sticky tape and wrapped them around the gauze and the boy’s leg at the top and bottom of the square.

Finally! Now he was able to relax and enjoy the notoriety this badge of honor would soon become. After returning to the yard, he was already walking straighter and taller than he ever had before. Confidence and pride filled his being.

Two days later, after avoiding a thorough bathing for long enough, it was time for me to remove the now dirty gauze square and the sticky tape that had faithfully held the gauze in place. As the bath water began to fill, I sat Curt down and began to carefully peel off the bandage. On the outside, the gauze reflected the grime of two days of school playgrounds and evening playtimes. On the inside, two pink dots were the only reminders of the blood that flowed days before. Even the wound was now a light pink discoloration on the boy’s leg. After a cleansing bath, even that reminder would soon fade.

I stood up in the bathroom and chuckled to myself at how filthy the bandage had become, and I remembered all the fuss made to dress the wound. It was at that moment that I sensed God’s feedback on my musings, “That’s how My people treat the wounds of their hearts.”

At that moment, I began to catch a small glimpse of God’s perspective on those minor hurts, small offenses and relational breakdowns among His children. I could sense His frustration when His people treat minor hurts, scrapes, and bruises like major, gaping mortal wounds.

We all have felt justified in demanding the gauze and sticky tape for our minor soulish scratches. After days of parading around our “badges of honor”, we suddenly realize how dirty our self-righteousness has become. To bathe in God’s forgiveness and cleansing, our dirty gauze must be removed.

In a split-second, I perceived a healing strategy from God’s Word for those who have endured wounds of the soul: 

Keep a grace perspective! Wounds of the soul are just as real as wounds of the body. Lies, deceit, slander, selfishness, verbal and emotional abuse, misunderstanding -- regardless of the cause, these wounds cut deep and have a profound and lasting effect on the believer.

I am reasonably sure that you have been the target of cruelty and mean-spiritedness, just as I have. The first step to victory and healing of soulish wounds is to realize that Jesus is the Healer of your emotional wounds, just as He clearly is the Healer of our bodies. His healing virtue is only appropriated by grace through faith, so our only “action,” when we have been wounded, is to believe — to accept His healing grace by faith.

“He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” Psalm 107:20 (KJV)

Nothing is happening to you that is personal or unique: it’s occurring in all the rest of the Body of Christ as well (see 1 Peter 5:9).

Keep it accountable! A key to healing lies in the sharing of the need, the widening of the circle of trust.

“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church ... confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:14,16 (NKJV)

Don’t stifle or trivialize hurts or emotional wounds. Share them with a trusted friend or minister, and ask for this prayer of healing promised to the local church. By verbalizing hurts, we help keep the healthiest perspective on life issues. Keep pressing into praise until joy wins out! The power and majesty of praise and worship help to diminish the hurt and magnify the Healer! A former pastor of mine said, “Worship is establishing the relative positions between God and man.” Therefore, the act of “trading our sorrows” helps to release the “oil of joy for gladness.”

“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13 (NKJV)

By applying these truths to our prayer life, we can overcome hurts and soulish wounds. Just like Curt found his wounds had healed, when we remove the dirty gauze and sticky tape from our emotional hurts, and then cleanse the wounded area, we are able to relish the healing grace of Jesus Christ. May God give you boldness to obtain His promised freedom! 

Copyright © Kevin Nuber, used with permission.

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