Steps to healing a wounded heart—that’s what we’re talking about in this series Heart Scan–dangers of a wounded heart. If you’ve missed it, check out the messages starting with my “Confessions” talk and the last two Heart Scan messages at http://www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast/. In the next few blogs, I want to just summarize the exercises we’ve been walking through so far that helped me find life, joy, and strength return.
Signs of a Wounded Heart
First, you must identify if there’s some place you’re unaware of that needs healing in your soul. I was totally clueless until God’s Spirit gently started pointing out some of these signs:
Loss of joy – You don’t experience that sense of wonder, awe, and beauty, celebrating the goodness of life.
Protecting yourself – You don’t have much to give, so you find yourself not wanting to initiate with people. You dread being with people because they might drain the little you have left.
Deep sadness – You may find feelings of deep sadness, like grief, well up unexpectedly. When a memory still feels sad, painful, terrifying…it’s a sign it’s still not healed.
Defensiveness – You’re easily hurt, defensive, reactive because you don’t have the reservoir of a full heart. Ask “What am I protecting or defending, and why?”
Easily Offended or Frustrated – when you carry unhealed wounds, it doesn’t take much of a jab to feel a lot of pain or anger or frustration.
Agreeing with Lies – We start to believe lies of the evil one because our wounds reinforced the lies: “You’re a bad leader,” “God’s not guiding you,” “He’s not speaking or you can’t hear His voice.” All lies, but wounds make them feel true.
Lack of Love for People – ultimately, unhealed wounds rob us of the ability to love people. People have hurt us, we still feel the hurts, so we are unable to love people because that requires proximity and vulnerability—which unhealed hearts fear.
Do you see the signs of a wounded heart? Can you see how dangerous it is for Christians, leaders especially, to ignore the signs and pretend it’s not there? So here’s part 1 of what I did that helped. I’ll put part 2 in the next blog.
Let God Heal You
Spend time in solitude or doing things you enjoy with the Lord. Like a bottle of muddy water, your soul needs to be quiet and unshaken for an extended amount of time, otherwise the silt never settles out and it’s hard to find clarity to face reality.
Do the Grocery Store Test. If you turned down the isle in the store, and there in front of you was [fill in the blank], but he/she didn’t see you—your fist inclination would be to turn around before you had to meet eyes with them. Don’t evaluate why, just write down that name.
List every person or event that might possibly have wounded you (or you them). I say “might possibly” because our tendency is to over-spiritualize and say “I forgave that” or “that didn’t really hurt me” and so we ignore the cumulative effect of all the “paper cuts” still oozing. So no spiritual editing—just put them all down. “Hearing from a 3rd party what someone said about me.” “When my spouse said or did…” “What my dad said…” Make a list of people, and what they did that hurt. Remember that Jesus also said, “If you take your gift to the altar and remember your brother has something against you, leave your gift on the altar. Go and make right what is wrong between you and him. Then come back and give your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). So we also need to write down relational damage we might have caused or where we might possibly have wounded another.
Start by doing this—just list all of them and write what happened. Next blog we’ll continue with what to do with the list. By the way, I thought this part of the process would take 15-20 minutes. It took me 3-4 hours! I’d love to hear comments—how does the thought of doing this strike you? What did you discover as you did it?