October 1, 2006

One True Thing

A man with deep hurts recently married into a close-knit family. He is from a small, shattered family and is not comfortable with the looser boundaries and tighter connections between people in his wife's family. His need to enforce firm -- and perhaps harsh -- boundaries has hit the family like an earthquake. Immediate family members are shaken with hurt and outrage, but even more distant relatives feel the reverberations and are touched by the pain of those at the epicenter.

The most profound truth I know is that psychological and spiritual wounds are never confined to the one who is wounded. The wound impacts those around the wounded person, even if their closest contacts are nothing more than acquaintances. One of the most important responsibilities we have in life is deciding when to share another's pain and when to separate from the situation out of self-preservation--and, for the wounded, when and how to lower defensive walls and start to connect with others in an open and healthy way.

Understanding and accepting a person with deep wounds, accepting them in their wounded state, is the best path--probably the only path--to healing both the person and their relationships. God is in such acts of compassion. A close-knit family environment, if it's reasonably healthy, can be a powerful source of connection and strength. I hope the family is able to work through this pain, and I hope the wounded person is able to grow. My prayer is that everyone is able to make the best choice for the situation, to find healing, and not to multiply the pain and brokenness. Everyone involved now has important choices to make.

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