We had spent the past twelve hours together, a little shopping, a little food, a little sleep, and a lot of conversation. I had said little and listened much. Not because I didn’t have anything I wanted to say, I had a boatload of statements I wanted to make and questions I wanted answered regarding her present life choices and how they were affecting her and others. But Wisdom told me to be quiet . . . until our last few moments together.
“Are you angry with God for all the pain you’ve had in your life?” I asked, holding each word gently in my hands and presenting them to her slowly, carefully, one by one.
Her gaze remained fixed on the road ahead, her hands gripped the steering wheel. “I’ve never thought about that,” she said. “But . . . I have wondered what I’ve done wrong in my life to deserve all of this.”
And there it was. I could see it. She had pulled the bandage back just far enough for me to see one of the lies that festered joyfully and danced freely on the edge of her wound, looking up to laugh and smirk at me before diving back deeply into her injury. “Honey, God’s not like that,” I said. “He’s not getting you back for wrongs done. You’ve had great wrongs done to you and losses in your life. You can tell him you’re angry. He can handle it.”
Then she startled me. She whipped the bandage back farther, exposing a gaping, oozing hole. “I don’t know how to say this, but I think my heart is hard.” And as quickly as she yanked the bandage back, she reapplied it, pressing it against her skin, careful to make a perfect seal.
She pulled her car next to mine. Our time together was over; our conversation ended. I fought to keep my tears under control. Her face showed no sign of emotion. “I love you,” I whispered as I hugged her. Then I got into my car and cried out to the Healer of hard hearts during my long drive home.
A year passed and her choices became darker with each passing month, the wound grew so large it literally sucked her in, swallowing any remaining healthy tissue. The drugs she trusted to numb her pain and keep the wound from spreading betrayed her. She kissed the face of death. It took the paramedics an hour to resuscitate her. It took her loved ones five hours to convince her she had hit bottom and the only road leading anywhere was up.
She took the up road. It was a long and arduous climb. But as she reached out a shaky hand toward Jesus and he clasped his nail-scarred hands around hers, she felt strength for the journey. Jesus stripped each lie naked before her and silenced each menacing laugh that sought to trip her. And when she felt the need to stop traveling and beat on his chest and tell him of her anger, he took every blow until she was exhausted and fell peacefully into his arms—a time to rest. And miraculously, her life began to change as her heart began to soften.
I spent twenty-four hours with her recently. We did a little shopping, a little eating, and a lot of talking. We said much and listened much. Her face was radiant. And I couldn’t help but notice, the bandage was gone. And the wound? It was healing. Sometimes reopening in tender places. Sometimes needing a little more salve. But healing.
And leaving a scar. A beautiful scar. A scar that tells a story—a story of redemption.
It's okay for healing to take time. It's okay to revisit old wounds and see if they need a little more salve. Healing is a process, a process that doesn't have a deadline or require perfection.