Band-Aids Won’t Fix You
I was recently washing a knife in the sink when I nicked a finger. It wasn’t much of a cut, but bleeding and food prep don’t go together. At least that’s what the experts publicly say on the Food Network. So I washed the blood off and applied a band-aid. Problem solved.
A day later I noticed that the band-aid was getting worn and was losing its adhesive capability. When I removed it I observed something else; my finger was red, irritated and slightly infected.
The band-aid had served the purpose for which it was created. It had stopped the flow of blood and momentarily protected the wound.
But band-aids don’t heal, they just temporarily patch, and when they are relied on for more than what they are meant for, they can actually cause greater long-term injury and hurt.
When it comes to relational, spiritual and emotional wounds, many people only temporarily address the injury with an insufficient patch-job; a life band-aid. Sure the bleeding gets stopped and further mess is limited or prevented, providing some hope or short-term fix, but some of the cuts that are caused by life with imperfect people require more than a superficial fix. Some require surgery and rehabilitation.
Who’s got time for that? And who wants to admit that their life-wound(s) requires the help of others? Who wants to admit that their life has deep-seated issues that were caused years and years ago, and the reason they still haunt and hound is because they have never been properly diagnosed and treated?
It’s a whole lot easier to cover the wound, force a happy face and get on with life. After all, everybody hurts sometimes, and who wants to be a burden?
But here’s the truth that personal and pastoral experience has taught me: if the wound is not properly treated, it will eventually cause more personal pain and pain for others. It is inevitable. If a wound is left to fester, it’s going to get bigger and it may become lethal. It’s going to spread through you, and it may even end up spreading to others. Wounds almost never just go away and miraculously vanish.
So what can be done? Life-wounds aren’t as easy as treating a nick or a scrape with some hydrogen peroxide, neosporin and a band-aid.
First, there must be self-awareness and honesty about your wound. Are you continually being hurt or hurting others? Do you continually experience pain from a particular act or hurt others repeatedly? Even if you have admitted an issue, have you really dealt with it in a life-changing way? It’s amazing how insane we can be. We do and experience the same things over and over, and wish upon a Disney-like-star that life will change, only to be strangely surprised when we don’t live happily-ever-after. If you won’t admit you have a problem and that you are a part of it, nothing will change. Pretending like nothing will be your undoing. That may be a hard pill to swallow, but being willing to admit the reality of the situation is the beginning of getting healthy.
Second, there must be a willingness to seek out qualified help that really gets at the source of the wound. It takes time, money, discomfort and vulnerability to get life-changing treatment from someone who really knows how to help. But think about this: if you could help yourself and do it by yourself, why are you still wounded and wounding? The truth of the matter is that the really deep and nagging wounds of life are the result of many years lived, and what might have started out as a nick, is now an entrenched and deeply rooted issue. So its going to take more than one apology, confession or visit to a professional. It’s going to take a lot of humility and ongoing accountability with people who can be trusted with sensitive and personal information. It’s going to take people who will persevere with you when you revert to old hurts, habits and hang-ups. It’s going to take someone who will love you; doing what is best for you. For example, a good place to start might be a recovery program like Celebrate Recovery (CR). CR is a Christ-centered recovery program that is hosted by many churches. You can Google it for a city near you. If you are looking for one in the Stillwater area, our church hosts a CR Ministry and they would love to help you.
Finally, we must dress the wound(s) with lasting forgiveness. We must be forgiven by God. We must be clothed in the righteousness of Christ by grace through faith in Christ alone. This is really the most important part. The pain you have been caused, and the pain you have caused others, will always be with you on this side of heaven. There is no Men in Black neuralyzer for the traumatized, but there is forgiveness that frees us from condemnation before God (Romans 8:1). We must be set free from captivity to our sin against God and others. We must be set free from ourselves. When we admit we have sinned and rebelled against God’s perfect way (1 Peter 2:25) and we trust in Christ (Romans 10:10-13) who took our place by dying for our sins (2 Cor. 5:21), we will be made new (2 Cor. 5:17) and we will be acquitted of all our sin. This is amazing grace and and it is life-changingly sweet. If we truly encounter saving grace, it transforms us and we will long to live in it and extend it to others – even those who have hurt us. By the way, if we won’t offer it to others, perhaps we haven’t received it (Matthew 6:14-15). We may have regret for past experiences and offenses, but we will live with hope that one day Jesus will make all things new (Revelation 21:1-7). If we don’t receive forgiveness in Christ, we may experience behavior modification and find some short-term solace for our soul, but we will never be able to get over the past and our injuries. Christ is no band-aid. He is a life-giving surgeon and you need His wound-repairing grace. Everything else is just a short-term patch-job of a life, and that is no life to live.