Henry stepped on a brick the other day, doing that reckless thing all children do that all mothers say not to. He was out playing with friends, barefoot, and in the middle of a game his foot found a broken brick in a neighbor’s front yard.
Henry’s foot was dripping with blood, bad enough that my friend Susie had to drive him home from only a few houses away. It was a little scary and the cut looked terrible.
I cleaned out the wound and sure enough the bleeding stopped. Henry was fine soon after, but his foot was understandably sore.
But a few days later, the wound still looked dark and it was irritated. Henry had a hard time walking on that area, but every time I inspected the cut it seemed to be in the process of healing. I irrigated the area and cleaned it out as much as possible without digging and making things worse.
Henry spent that week hobbling around. He had swim practice, he played in a soccer game. Life went on and he seemed to be fine, but it still hurt when he put pressure on that part of his foot.
Finally one night he came out of my bathroom armed with tweezers. “I think I hear a scratching sound,” he said. Which seemed weird. Why would your foot make a scratching sound? But he couldn’t describe it any better than that.
A few minutes later, my son came to me holding two small pieces of brick. Can you believe it? He had been walking around all week with two bits of brick still in his foot! I was embarrassed and ashamed and excited and freaked out.
Of course Henry was cured — the shards of brick had been the culprit all along. He could suddenly walk without pain because the thing that caused so much hurt had been removed. Just like that, he was fine.
What an embarrassing story to tell — how could I not have known? But I didn’t, and instead of coming up with all the excuses of how this could have happened, I was mostly just happy that my son felt better. The dark “dried blood” in the cut wasn’t blood at all, it was a piece of brick that was now gone.
Henry was the walking wounded and now he was healed.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the wounds we carry. Being a human is tough work. We get hurt, we are wounded by unkind words and deeds. We carry these injuries with us and they become a part of who we are. We react out of hurt, sometimes we do things that make sense only in light of a wound known only to us.
And we deal with people who are this same way. How can any of us know the depth of another’s struggle? Can we ever truly understand what affects those people around us?
“Be kind,” goes the saying, “for everyone is fighting a great battle.”
But on top of all of this, of the reality of hurts and wounds and the sadness of life, is the truth that our God saves us and he heals us. For each one of us walking around with a shard that stays where we have been hurt, God is there to remove that for us.
God can offer us true freedom, to bring us back from the injuries that we all suffer. We spend time in prayer, we find solace in God’s love by quietly soaking up the healing graces he has to offer.
God wants us healed and whole — not because he can love us better, but because he wants that freedom for each one of us. He doesn’t want us to suffer through life.
And out of that suffering, from the healing God offers, we can learn to love those around us. In the midst of our healing, we begin to offer in some small way the love of God that the hurting world so desperately needs to feel.