So Long, Band-Aid Solutions

|

Wound care has always been one of my favorite aspects of being a nurse. I love the process of the different cells coming together, like tiny soldiers, to perform their individual duties: clotting crew, cleaning crew, and new tissue formation. It’s fascinating to watch a gaping wound clean up its act and migrate its way back to new skin, healing from the inside out, preferably with no scar or only a minimal scar left behind.

I know about this from a mom’s perspective as well as from a professional point of view. Wounds are a big deal at our house. Wounds that leave scars are even better for bragging rights (yes, we have boys).

But the true hero of any wound is a band-aid. My three older boys firmly believe in the power of the band-aid. Blood or no blood, band-aids to the rescue. We actually had to place a rationing order on band-aids at our house to keep them in stock. On the other hand, Grant, my three-year old, has a completely different approach to wound care. He believes love fixes any wound. “Mommy, kiss it, make it better.”

Moms Use Bandaids Too

Early in 2021, I felt God convicting me of how I dealt with wound care in my own life. I found myself approaching any hurt, unkind word, worry, or emotional battle with band-aid after band-aid, until I had become one giant-sized band-aid solution. Unfortunately, there was no band-aid rationing happening in my own life; I just kept the box handy. 

It was in this season that God came alongside me and reminded me to bring my cares and concerns, my wounds and scars, to Him. He wanted to remove all of my band-aids and heal me from the inside out. It was as if he was saying, “Proper wound care, Tonya.”

I think my experience is common. You and I may never put on a soldier’s uniform and walk onto a battlefield. But we all have or will acquire wounds along our journey on the battlefield of life. The wounds we pick up are not always visible to the naked eye. They are often wounds of the heart and soul — emotional wounds. 

We are vulnerable to emotional wounding because of sin, and because we live in a fallen world. Emotional wounds are inescapable effects of the deterioration of God’s “very good” creation. And, of course, some of our wounds result from our own choices or the sinful choices of others.

We are vulnerable to emotional wounding because of sin, and because we live in a fallen world.

However they occur and whatever their cause, emotional wounds can be as painful as any physical wound we have faced. There are wounds of infertility, abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional), wounds of loneliness, abandonment, a failed career, a rebellious teenager, depression, betrayal by a spouse, abortion, broken relationships, an unsaved child, death of a loved one, worthlessness, broken dreams, hopelessness, addiction, alcoholism, pornography, and the list could go on and on. 

Whatever the emotional wound, whether it’s a deep tissue wound or a superficial paper-cut, it must go through the process of healing, just like a physical wound. And, often, even when the wound is thoroughly healed, a scar is left behind.

Life Wounds Us Unexpectedly 

Whether you attend church every Sunday or have never darkened the doors of the church, we all have wounds, hurts, scars and pain. Knowing the Creator doesn’t remove the likelihood of being wounded in this imperfect world.

Knowing the Creator doesn’t remove the likelihood of being wounded in this imperfect world. 

About six months after my first baby was born, I began to wonder if I was demon possessed. I had constant mind chatter. Frightened that I might harm myself, I placed the knives at the back of the dishwasher. I sang “Jesus loves me” whenever I was near my precious baby boy to make sure I didn’t harm him. I couldn’t sleep at night. I would strap the baby in his car-seat and drive aimlessly, crying, “God help me, God help me.”

This went on for months. I thought it was a spiritual battle. If I prayed harder, maybe, it would fix everything. I cried out to God, but there was no relief. I began believing I was schizophrenic. Evil thoughts constantly raced through my mind. I would lie in bed at night quoting “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” over and over again to try to sleep and so I didn’t get out of bed, get a weapon, and end my life. There was no escape. I was trapped. It was a living hell.

Satan had convinced me that I was a horrible Christian, an awful mother, a burden to my husband, and a complete and total failure. I couldn’t take it anymore and determined my only way out was suicide.

But God heard my cries and provided a way of escape. I was taken to the Doctor and started on medication for sleep, anxiety, and depression. I was later diagnosed with not only postpartum depression, but postpartum psychosis.

If I would have talked sooner, I believe my story would be different.

Years later, I am able to say, “But for the grace of God!” I never shared my struggles with anyone during that dark time. And now I believe my story would be different, that I wouldn’t be so haunted all these years later, if I would have talked sooner. I believe that my wounds would have healed faster. I believe that my scars wouldn’t be so large and deep. 

The Cycle of Emotional Wounds 

I thought I only struggled with postpartum depression — that I would only struggle after having babies — but that hasn’t been the case. A family move to a new state brought depression beating on my door full force, and this time it brought its best friend, anxiety, along. The sleepless nights, the racing mind, and suicidal thoughts were back with a vengeance. 

I went through the motions of living. I was in survival mode. I finally realized that I couldn’t do it anymore. I found a physician, who specialized in women’s depression, and once again began taking medication. No, medication is not the cure-all for everything, but it’s been a necessary treatment for me in my life, though it’s not for everyone. 

I remember, during this season of life (unfortunately, this particular emotional wound is cyclical), feeling deeply wounded and broken — shattered, really. Yet, time and again, God breaks through my mess and reminds me that I am never too wounded, too scarred, or too shattered for his healing and restoration. 

The One Who Stitches Us Up

I read somewhere that it is important that we don’t just park at our pain and remain there the rest of our lives. We must keep moving forward. The same concept is true of wound care. For most physical wounds (disregarding the deep, involved ones), the rule of thumb is to keep it covered and moist for five days. If you keep it covered for too long it can slow down the healing process. The same is true for emotional wounds.

Psalm 147:3 promises, “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” “Heal,” in this case, is like the process of stitching. Stitches are placed to hold the wound together until it has time to heal. God is doing the same with us — binding our wounds, soothing us together, “stitch by stitch,” so that we can receive complete healing. The key is that we have to allow Him access to our wounds. And that takes surrender to the process, even to the unpleasant parts. 

Scars are Reminders of Healing 

Some of our wounds leave behind scars. But I have learned that scars can be beautiful. They can be a reminder of the goodness of God, and His redeeming power. Isaiah 53:5 says, “He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.”

Most of our emotional wounds or scars are internal. With each imperfect mark Satan comes along and whispers, “flawed, failure, worthless, you will never overcome them, you are too broken for healing.” But your wounds, your scars, are a beautiful part of who you are, and of who you are becoming. Your scars are a reminder of how God knit the difficult pieces of your story back together. God doesn’t give us scars to remind us that we have been hurt, but to remind us that we have been healed.

God doesn’t give us scars to remind us we have been hurt, but to remind us that we have been healed.

Jesus has scars. God did not remove His scars. Remember when Jesus appeared to His disciples, and they didn’t know who He was? How did they recognize Him? The scars in His hands.

Scars Can be Beauty Marks

It is important that we surrender our wounds to Jesus so that He can turn our wounds into scars of victory. I am learning to be thankful for the scars that God has entrusted to me. I haven’t fully arrived; it’s definitely a process. But, you see, I have learned empathy through my scars. I have learned to be less judgmental of others because I have no idea what wounds and scars lurk behind their smiles. I have learned that in my most broken places, God has been able to use me the most. 

No wound or scar is ever wasted. God uses it for His glory. The most valuable lesson my scars have taught me is how desperately I need Jesus. Every hour, every minute of the day. God longs not only to heal each of our wounds, but also to turn our scars — the reminder of what we have endured — into beauty marks of purpose for Him. Jesus wants to take our wounds into his nail-scarred hands, and heal us from the inside out. That’s proper wound care. 

Grant, my three-year old, had the right idea all along. Band-aids don’t heal wounds. Love is the true Healer. 

Tonya Slagenweit
Tonya is an RN and a mom to four boys.