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Wounds, forgiveness and healing

When I was 14, I broke my arm.  I fell off our horse.  It was a terrible injury - a compound fracture that required three months in a cast, two surgeries, and 18 months of physical therapy.

After I got the cast off, I wasn't able to use my arm much, and I still had a nasty scar that didn't seem to be healing well.  One day, the scar split open and little pieces of dirt and debris oozed out.  I had fallen off the horse in a field, and it was clear that the original wound had not been cleaned as well as originally thought.  I had to go back for more surgery to clean the wound, more deeply than before.

As I'm sure many of you did, I heard a sermon this past weekend, on the anniversary of 9/11, about forgiveness.  It brought to mind that scar of mine - what I thought had been healed was actually festering, until the debris "bubbled up" again, and more work was needed.

Forgiveness is like that.  It's a process.  It's a job never fully done.  If you've been deeply wounded -either by your own actions or those of someone else - you know it's a terribly painful thing.  We often think we've forgiven, but old hurts can "bubble" back up - triggered by a word, an image, an action that we might think is totally unrelated, but opens up that scar again.

I don't think forgiveness is about forgetting.  I can't ever forget the injury to my arm - I damaged a nerve and still can't feel part of my hand, wrist and forearm.  However, most people never know this, as the damage is relatively slight and I've learned to manage around it.  But once in awhile, I get a twinge, an ache, a reminder that things aren't the way they should be - all because I fell off a horse when I was 14.  I don't forget, but I'm healed.  "Healed" doesn't mean that things are the way they were before: we aren't the way we were before.  But we've learned to navigate around the brokenness, the pain, and we've set the injury aside so that we can move forward.

We promise ourselves that we won't forget 9/11, and we shouldn't.  We should finger the scar a bit, ponder what it means to forgive, and think about all we've learned from our experiences of hurt, pain, anger, injustice and woundedness.  Breaking my arm made me a more compassionate person, a more patient person, a more humble person.  I had to learn to accept help, to navigate around a weakness, and to recognize the shortcomings in myself.  That's all part of the forgiveness and healing.
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.  (And) be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. - Eph. 4:31-32


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