I started a new job a few weeks ago and the path that I take to get there every day takes me right between two buildings that have roots in my trauma story. One is a wound care facility, the other is an emergency room. Thankfully, because of God’s goodness, there’s very little residue left in the memories of those buildings, and most of the time I drive past them without a second thought. But the Lord still uses these places and experiences, even the most graphic ones, to teach me things . . .bear with me.
After complications from a surgery in 2017, I left a month-long stay in the hospital with an open wound on my stomach and a device called a “wound vacuum.” You can read about that device here if you so choose, but to save you the gory details, I’ll just tell you that it kept my wound from retreating back into septic infection.
In order for my stomach to heal properly I had to have regular wound care appointments (at the aforementioned building) that involved a process called, “debridement” (di-ˈbrēd-mənt). This one I will explain, and I apologize in advance because it’s not a pretty process. Healthline.com defines it this way, “Debridement is the removal of dead (necrotic) or infected skin tissue to help a wound heal. It’s also done to remove foreign material from tissue.” The long and short of it is that for a period of time my wound had to be scraped repeatedly from the inside out to clean any dead or infected tissue and give the healthy tissue a wakeup call to keep working. I hated having it done; it was expensive, and while it sounds (and can be) painful, it was more uncomfortable for me than anything, and the thought of what was being done to my open stomach made me want to hurl.
I’m squeamish about anything that involves unnatural things occurring to or in the body, especially my body. I had to work hard to distract my mind from the fact that there were hands and instruments inside my gut while I laid there on the table. Yes, I could absolutely feel it. The closest I can get to describing it would be to tell you to jam your finger in your belly button and wiggle it around, but . . .I don’t think anyone wants to go digging in there . . . that’s exactly how I felt about my stomach though.
I swear, I’m not trying to be gross and belabor the point of my physical healing, but I do want to share something the Lord is showing me about this process.
The Lord highlighted the word “debridement” while I was at church a few Sundays ago. It’s not a word that the average person has rolling off their tongue, it just popped into my head during worship, which was super weird. It was definitely not something I wanted to think about while standing in the Lord’s presence, but it wouldn’t go away, so I knew I had to pay attention.
It took some time for me to see where He was going with it, but He eventually showed me that I’m on a journey of discovering what spiritual debridement looks like. There has been a lot of transition in my life this year, and the biggest one is still ahead as my fiancé and I get married and blend our families this fall. As we prepare for that, the Lord is continually sharpening us and illuminating things in each of our lives that need attention. It’s uncomfortable and can be very painful. The Lord is revealing old wounds in my heart that have developed some necrotic tissue, and need to be scraped, or debrided, so that the healthy tissue can be roughed up and begin to function like it’s supposed to, creating new flesh instead of as a feeding ground for dead cells.
I don’t like this process any more now than I liked it when it was going on in my body. But the physical process of debridement, along with the very tender care of my home health nurse, and God’s healing hand, caused my wound to heal in record time, faster than anyone ever expected it to. I remember the day my nurse looked at my wound for one of the last times (and I looked at it straight on for the first time), she did a little dance and gave praise to God because of how good it looked and how quickly it had healed.
If I let God have access to the wounds He is revealing, healing is inevitable. There is a completely different outcome if I reject His work, and, believe me, I know what that looks like as well. But when I let Him in, He allows the wounds to be roughed up and debrided; He stops death in its tracks.
This may look and feel as if He is opening wounds that I thought were already healed. But as I also learned through the physical process, the body can close and heal on the outside while there are still openings and infections on the inside. That means that the healing was superficial, and the wound is going to open up again on its own anyway. I don’t know about you, but if whole healing is what I’m aiming for, I would rather get it done right and quickly the first time. I remember how discouraged I was when one of the spots on my wound opened up again. I felt like I had failed somehow, and that it was never going to heal properly. It’s exactly the same experience with superficially healed emotional wounds. I can feel crushed under the weight of trying to overcome yet again, but if I invite Jesus in as I’m healing, we can get it right the first time. Debriding that wound is a necessary process either way.
This is an emotionally expensive process. It costs me something to let God do the necessary work; it costs me my pride. Just like my stomach was literally open on the table, this process requires my heart to be opened, no matter what may be found inside. I have to be honest and admit that things are not as they should be in my life. This naturally leads to repentance and forgiveness, which are absolutely necessary in the healing process. Unforgiveness is an infection in and of itself, as well as a great indicator of pride. There is no way forward without forgiveness being offered to the inflictor of the wound, and then received from the Father for whatever our response was that allowed the wound to become infected.
Here’s the good news: When I allow Jehovah Rapha (God our healer), to do His work, my pain is temporary. After being completely open on the Lord’s surgical table, and allowing Him to work, I can then look at the wound without fear, do a little dance, and praise Him for how good it looks.
Debridement is not a fun process, but it is a good process. I pray that you never have to know what it’s like in your physical body, but I do pray that, as inevitable emotional wounds occur, you will allow the Father to come and debride the death that tries to attach itself to you so that you can live in the beauty of His healing.
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