You may have heard the expression coined by Father Henri Nouwen that we are all “wounded healers.” As followers of Christ, we have been given the command and the power to bring healing into the lives of others by being present or by helping them in some way. However, we must never forget that we are also in need of healing.
The fact that we are all healers and in need of healing is a life-long “balancing act.” Sometimes, one of these realities may appear stronger than the other. At times we feel on top of life and do not sense our own need for healing. We feel able to respond to the needs of others and freely lend a listening ear or a helping hand. Then, at other times, we get caught up in our own pain and suffering, and struggle just to get through the day without falling apart.
It’s important not to allow one side of this equation to get out of balance. If we are always reaching out in love and compassion to others, but are not attending to our own inner needs for healing, we may find ourselves in a terrible place of burnout and exhausted.
As followers of Jesus, we must remember that our call to love others also involves a call to love ourselves. The commandment Jesus gave us is to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” So many good people have pushed themselves to the extreme and wound up useless in the end because they have given everything they had and now they feel drained.
When we find ourselves running on empty, we can do what the people did in the gospels – they went to Jesus for healing. He will grant us the peace and strength we need. Or he may direct us to others who can help us through a rather difficult time. The Lord will lead us in a specific direction. Our task is to remain open to whatever and wherever the Lord is leading us.
God does not want us to remain alone and isolated in our need for healing. Seek out friends or groups or organizations that can help you through difficult times. This is not a sign of weakness, but of wisdom. The wise person knows they cannot do everything by themselves. They seek help wherever it can be found.
In Mark’s Gospel, a woman came and touched Jesus’ garment because she believed that she could be cured of her hemorrhaging. Jesus became aware that power had gone forth from him and asked, “Who touched me?”
In a way, this is what happens to us when we love others in a genuine and life-giving way. Power goes out of us. It costs us something to reach out to others. It costs us our time, our patience in putting our plans aside to be totally present to the person, and our willingness to reach out to the person in whatever way we can. We also need to recharge our own batteries.
As Jesus’ followers, we need to claim the power to bring others out of their isolation, whether that isolation comes from poverty, sickness, old age, prejudice, AIDS, or any number of circumstances. We are called to bring a sense of community and healing to those who are looking to us as healers in the name of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: Jesus, you empowered us to be instruments of healing and restoration. Our world needs healing today as never before. We believe in the healing power of faith and prayer and we ask you to use us as your instrument of peace and strength. Help us to heal divisions and bring love and harmony into our world. Protect us from all evil and discouragement. We believe that all things are possible with you at our side. In your name we pray. Amen.