Cleaning That Heals

Someone has compared forgiveness to cleaning a wound. I find that comparison accurate in many ways. First of all, the deeper the wound, the more it hurts to clean it. It doesn’t hurt to wash off a surface scratch, but a deep wound is very tender and the very action of cleaning it causes additional pain. Without cleaning it, the wound will become infected and not heal. So even though cleaning hurts, it is necessary for healing.

The process of forgiving is also painful, but necessary to keep a clean heart so we will heal from our personal wounds. The deeper the loss or injury the more painful the act of forgiving.

Another similarity between a physical wound and a personal wound is that a deeper wound needs cleaning more often than a surface scratch. With a minor wound, you wash it once and you are good to go. A deeper wound continues to ooze after cleansing and you have to repeatedly clean and change its dressing. As it begins to heal, the frequency decreases.

The same is true for personal wounds, some wrongs can be forgiven and forgotten, others you forgive and before you know it the pain and anger begins to filtrate your consciousness again. Don’t beat up on yourself if this happens. You just have to “clean” your wound again by reaffirming your forgiveness. As you heal those times will come less often.

A deep wound will throb with pain if it is knocked even after it has stopped weeping and it looks healed. The throbbing may hurt deeply but usually not for very long. Similarly even after an emotional wound seems “healed,” a ping from the past or chance meeting with someone associated with that injury may ding our pain.

Lastly, we can’t heal our wounds, we can only support the healing process with good nutrition and hygiene. A healthy body heals wounds. But our bodies heal different wounds at different rates. Some heal quicker than others and never bother us again. Others leave scars to remind us of our battles. Others act up under stress or weather changes.

The same is true for our emotional wounds. God heals our wounds, but we must practice good emotional and spiritual hygiene and nutrition. We keep our wounds clean by forgiving. How often? As often as the wound begins to seep bitter thoughts and emotions into your life. We nourish our spiritual life on God’s word.

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and He saved them from their distress. He sent forth His word and healed them” (Psalm 107:19-20). God’s word has healing and cleansing powers (Ephesians 5:26). Take in generous amounts.

Are you experiencing a fresh wound? What old wound has been recently pinged? To wash your wound, who do you need to forgive (maybe again)? Nurture your spiritual and emotional life with God’s word. Since Jesus is the living Word, His life in you supplies the divine grace and ability to forgive and to heal.

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  1. Ann Johnson

    Hi Debbie,

    Awesome analogy. I’ve heard so many teach that once you forgive, that’s all you have to do. God has healed you. Maybe so, but I have to keep cleaning my deep wounds… and there are plenty of them!

    Love you,
    Ann Johnson

  2. sandi brown

    Thanks for the reminder. It is so easy to become discouraged when old emotions come back up. If only the voice in my head didn’t sound just like my voice.

  3. Lisa W

    Amen to that, Sandi! Thank you, Debbie for your words of wisdom. Love you and miss you!

  4. Don Woeltjen

    Hi Debbie: I just read your column to Eulalie and the “wound” story is a reminder of how we had to deal with her physical disease for a few years. The transition to the emotional cleansing is not only painful but for some, impossible. I have found some people who prefered to die from infection than to take the necessary steps you suggest. Prayer is the only answer when that occurs, asking God to do what we can’t do for ourselves. I have found Him always willing, desirous and able to help me.

    • debwilson

      Don, I agree that God readily helps us, but to clarify, I don’t believe that He does for us what He has asked us to do. He supplies the grace and strength to obey. If I asked a cripple man to pick up his mat and walk, it would be cruel, because I couldn’t give him the strength to do so. But when Jesus tells a cripple man to pick up his mat and walk, the man better obey or he’ll miss a miracle. I have talked with so many people who say I’ve prayed and prayed and nothing changed. But when we explore, I find they haven’t taken the small steps that God has shown them to take. In my own life I find that if I will do what He has shown me, the grace will be supplied as I go, not before! The Red Sea didn’t part until the priest got their feet wet.

      Sometimes we can give the support to help them walk through the steps to freedom and healing. An answer to their prayer may be one who comes along side to walk with them.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I know they help many.

  5. memory jones

    This was timely. Thanks Debbie!

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