It’s black and blue, it looks awful. It’s hard to believe it’s actually getting better and that this awful looking phase is part of the healing process.
Things often have to look worse before they get better. It hurts to heal and it’s painful to get better.
I remember so well how patients progress after surgery. They often have it pretty good for the first couple of days and so many times about the third day post-op they can go downhill and much worry sets in that they have taken a turn for the worst.
Most often, it’s only normal. When the body has been anesthetized or put to sleep, it takes time for everything to wake up and feel again and feeling again is painful.
Have you ever seen someone who has had cosmetic surgery, say, a nose job or around the eyes?
They normally hide for a week or so, hoping no one sees them and for good reason. Immediately after surgery, they literally turn black and blue all over their gorgeous-to-be face.
It is absolutely horrifying. It’s the same for someone who has taken a tough lick to the forehead.
About the next day, the hematoma from a knot on the head, by gravity, sinks down into their eyes and it appears someone has literally blacked both eyes and they are often swollen shut. With children this is so scary.
Emotional bruises are no different.
It’s possible to survive the initial injury without losing control or faltering, but it is common that sometimes later the reality of the hurt sets in and we sink into despair.
It’s about time people realized that if someone is terribly bruised, it may take a while before that person is able to respond normally or return to their usual selves.
Without knowing this process, someone comes along and bumps that sore spot again, setting back the healing process and prolonging that recovery.
This can occur over and over again so that an initial injury that should have healed quickly lasts a long time and the person takes a long time to get over it and get well.
We think just because we have said “I’m sorry” for something we did to someone, that they should immediately get over it.
If what we did or said really hurt that person deeply, they cannot recover that fast. Whether it is a mate, a friend, a family member or brother/ sister in the Church, instant forgiveness may not be possible.
A bruised spirit cannot heal instantly on its own. Our societal urge to cover up our feelings and show a good face regardless can often fool others into thinking we have either blown off the incident or were not really bothered by it to begin with.
We have become so good at hiding our feelings that some things have completely bowled us over and no one even knows it.
Even husbands and wives gravely injure one another and sometimes do not immediately see what they have done. And often the person offended is still “touchy” days and weeks later and no one seems to understand why.
We thought the incident was resolved and cannot relate to why it doesn’t go away. The reason is, it’s still sore and either through ignorance or lack of paying attention we keep bumping that bruise and it remains terribly discolored and doesn’t heal.
Back to a bruised spirit. God, some of us can talk today about some of the terrible things that have happened to us in our lives and the awful bruises it left on our spirits.
We have been so hurt by some things that we actually wished we could have just died. Facing some things that life and people threw at us took every ounce of strength we had.
It often robbed us of our very desire for life and the thing kept coming back to strike us again and again.
Some of us have made mistakes that wounded the very insides of our souls, things we had to live with for the rest of our lives and only real people can relate to the terrible beating and bruising that we can do to our own selves and the healing and work it takes to get well again.
Sometimes I think we’re all hypocrites. We don’t even know how to be real and we would rather expire than have someone know just how destroyed and sick we are on the inside.
People all around us are falling apart and everyone goes on with business as usual, never sharing, never asking for help and getting sicker by the day.
We’ve preached healing all these years. We actually know very little about healing, especially what benefits we have from the awful bruising and beating of the One we call our Friend, the one who sticks closer than a brother.
Rejected by everybody, those He loved the most, spit on, mocked and destroyed for loving and caring so much.
Lied on, betrayed, (those of us who have been betrayed act like no one else could ever possibly know how that feels), all His friends left Him, He even felt his own Heavenly Father had forsaken Him, (we don’t talk about that very much but that’s how He felt at the time).
Part of Jesus Christ did not want to lose his life, to die for people who didn’t even seem to care.
What a bruise, what a terrible, dark and ugly bruise that must have been, thrown down by even those you thought cared.
They lived with him every day, He fed them, shared every aspect of his ministry with them, built them and shaped them into great people and they all ran off.
He did it so we could get well. Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. He said He came to “bind up those who were bruised.” Do we really know today just what that meant?
Some of us are trying to get well and we can’t. Every time we think we’ve gotten over it, along comes some unthinking person or dark thought out of the past and knocks us on this place that just doesn’t seem to heal for good.
We’ve tried everything. Don’t beat your self up. We’re quick to say people should just forgive and forget and not hold onto the past.
That’s true but sometimes the past can hold on to you. We’re so shallow as a people sometimes.
Terrible tragedy can bruise people, losing someone close you love, a failed marriage or betrayal in your personal relationships, things that person had no control over, things all of us can number, a quick unthinking mistake, a weakness we just couldn’t seem to get a handle on, life, just plain old life.
But there is good news. We don’t have to go on being bruised, never recovering and getting banged up on that old wound that doesn’t go away.
It’s the same healing power that allows people to get up out of wheel chairs, the same power that caused lame arms to straighten, blind eyes to open, deaf ears to be unstopped.
It is a healing that more of us need than any other kind in our world today. One song calls Him “the heart mender.”
There are gifts among us, they could be used if we let them to minister to broken hearts and the bruised spirits of the tired and weary traveler, those who walk beside us every day.
I pray this kind of healing will began to come upon us, that we will lay down our cold doubts and fears and began to apply that balm to one another that can restore all our brokenness.
The price was paid, it’s already in our hands. We only have to use what He’s already given us. It’s been in our reach all along.
First published: January 20, 2011.
~ Robert Blackburn