The past and its memories can be harsh. Especially for those who have experienced great hurt. I call such hurts wounds of the soul.
After the injury ceases its pain, after the scars heal, the wounds of the soul remain. They remain forever as a reminder, not only that I was hurt, but also that I survived. I have learned not to be enslaved by my wounds. They remind me that I was stronger than the thing or the person that tried to hurt me.
How does one heal the wounds of the soul? You don’t heal them. They never go away. They remain on the soul as badges of courage and reminders of strength and perseverance. They happened in the past, of course, but they make me more mindful of the glories of the present moment.
“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
In spite of the soul’s wounds, I am filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love. There is a part of me that is grateful for the wounds that stay with me. They make me stronger. They make me resilient. They make me wise enough to not be hurt again. I want to always remember that the soul is able to endure the wounds. The soul’s memories will always mark the time of the hurt and hold it for safekeeping. The soul will bear its wounds with grace, thankful that they make us the person we are meant to be.
I often ask myself the question “Who would you be without the wounds?”
Life has often been a stormy way for me. The good news is that I have survived many of the storms in my life. And the poet asks us the question: “Who is happier? The person who has braved the storm and lived to tell it or the person who stayed securely on the shore and merely existed?”
I’m glad I braved the storms. I’m glad I took the risks. I’m even glad I endured some losses. I suffered. I wept. I was often angry. I made many more messes than I could possibly clean up. Whatever corner I backed myself into was worth it. The battles I fought were worth fighting. The friends I lost were not really friends in the first place. To be sure, I did much more than just exist. I weathered the storms, and I survived to live another day.
Life has taught me to move on, to get beyond hurts and bad feelings, to reach out again and again for happiness, in spite of the risks. I have learned to keep on keeping on, no matter what. I love the words of Steve Maraboli:
“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.”
Life can sometimes find us in a stumbling mess of confusion. But God’s blessing is that we are stumbling upon varying degrees of grace in every moment. It is grace that empowers us. It is grace that gives us strength to move forward. It is grace that saves us from ourselves. It is grace that helps us deal with discouragement. John R. W. Scott wrote that “grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.”
I have lived a great many years, struggling through parts of life, racing like the wind through others. Something made the difference in my ability to run with the wind during times when I was weary and weak. I believe that the difference was grace, grace that always has the final word, grace that calls out to us and nudges us onward when we’re afraid to move, grace that is an overwhelming and undeserved gift from God that enables us to live, change and grow.
Living on daily dialysis, waiting for a possible kidney transplant, living a long way from my child and my grandchildren, struggling with medical expenses, dealing with failing health, becoming aware of my mortality . . . The list could go on and on. Yet, I am okay. I enjoy my life. As the beloved hymn says, “it is well with my soul.” That’s because grace lights my darkened world and fills my soul with eternal hope.
I rest on this timeless quote by Thomas Adams (1612-1653):
“Grace comes into the soul, as the morning sun into the world; first a dawning, then a light; and at last the sun in its full and excellent brightness.”
So I am continuing to stumble through life, but I am stumbling upon grace.