“The Wounded Healer” by Henri Nouwen 

  

Shortly after I lost my baby Josephine in labour nearly 6 months ago, a friend lent me this book by Henri Nouwen: “The Wounded Healer: In our woundedness, we can become a source of life for others.”  The idea expressed in the subtitle caught my attention, because it spoke a truth that I had recently discovered myself…that my pain and brokenness had become a means of connecting deeply with others, and of helping them release their own pain. 

This process is not one of having all the right consoling things to say, or of having found a magic solution to blot out pain. Emotional healing is not about making pain disappear, but about learning how to live with it while maintaining a sense of hope and joy. 

There is a huge difference here, because one involves living in the reality of our broken world, with a hope that transcends it, while the other involves hoping in a world that doesn’t exist in the present…one without any suffering. 

Acceptance or denial, peace or rebellion. Choices we make every day when we live in pain. 

The world may tell us that life is not worth living when there is deep pain, and that the supposed nothingness of death would be better. But I can honestly say that there are things pain does which are very beautiful: 

Pain breaks down barriers between people and connects hearts. 

Pain makes beauty stand out in sharp relief, and helps one appreciate what was previously taken for granted. 

Pain burns away the fear of being authentically yourself, because the petty concern of what others might think ceases to matter as much. 

Pain rips open your heart to let the world in; no longer do you judge those who are struggling. 

Pain makes you rely on God, because your spirit needs support to bear this weight gracefully. Meaning with God’s grace. With prayer. 

Connection. Gratitude. Authenticity. Compassion. Interior growth. These are all pretty big gifts. They make life more beautiful and worth living. 

When you truly suffer, your heart hurts deeply, but loves more deeply as well. And this love, coming from a humble place of pain mingled with hope, can be a source of life for others. 

  

18 thoughts on ““The Wounded Healer” by Henri Nouwen 

  1. Robert McCandless

    Oh dear!

    This one chokes me up because it is so real; we are all wounded in various ways, which explains some of the dumb, hurtful, hateful things we do…but also the beautiful things we do, like accepting people as they are, listening with our hearts, without trying to talk them out of their perfectly human, guilt-ridden shame and weary, torn, mostly hidden pain.

    Like

  2. Julia

    Beautiful post Anna. There is great wisdom in your writing. Isn’t it wonderful how, even in our brokenness, suffering, and loss, God can accomplish so many good works in our life and those around us if we let Him? So, bring on the pain. Break my heart open Lord. Stretch. Let us take up our crosses for Him so that we may become more like Jesus every day.

    “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get into heaven.” – St. Rose of Lima

    Liked by 1 person

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