Faith Friday – The Wounded Healer

As you can probably tell by my recent posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about community and this odd little diabetes community we have built both online and offline. I was looking through my bookshelves (book hoarder) and I found an old book from college that I remembered liking very much.

The author is Henri Nouwen and he actually wrote this book in 1972. I tell you that because the issues he brings up and the points he makes are surprisingly relevant and accurate for the conversations we continue to have today. The internet did not exist in any form as we use it today, and social media was probably not anything Nouwen could have imagined.

My copy of The Wounded Healer is completely highlighted, marked-up, and dog-eared. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

No man can stay alive when nobody is waiting for him.

Let us not diminish the power of waiting by saying that a lifesaving relationship cannot develop in an hour. One eye movement or one handshake can replace years of friendship when man is in agony. Love not only lasts forever, it needs only a second to come about.

He is called to be the wounded healer, the one who must look after his own wounds but that the same time be prepared to heal the wounds of others.

If instead of reading your Bible, you had visited this young man just once and looked into his eyes, you would have known.

It is this wound which he is called to bind with more care and attention than others usually do. For a deep understanding of his own pain makes it possible for him to convert his weakness into strength and to offer his own experience as a source of healing to those who are often lost in the darkness of their own misunderstood sufferings. This is a very hard call, because for a minister who is committed to forming a community of faith, loneliness is a very painful wound which is easily subject to denial and neglect.

This experience tell us that we can only love because we are born out of love, that we can only give because our life is a gift, and that we can only make others free because we are set free by Him whose heart is greater than ours.

Diabetes has caused some of my deepest wounds and pain and has even forced me to deal with wounds I thought were healed from my past. I think that may be true for other people in the community as well. But is it in the process of healing those wounds that we are “prepared to heal the wounds of others”?

“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Acts 20:24


  • So true Sara. My deepest wounds have come because of diabetes also – quite literally in the case of a wound that almost cost me my leg! I feel a lot better when I can help others deal with their wounds.

  • Well said — and I can testify to the whole lives, and conversations, communicated in a single glance; I can testify to how my own experiences have allowed me to help others; and how others’ experiences have helped me.

    We are all, in the truest sense of the word, “angels” (messengers) of [insert Deity/Deities here], and whether you call it Hillel’s rule, the Golden Rule, the Wiccan Rede, or something else, it is largely true of the human race that kindness begets kindness, anger begets anger, and love begets love.

  • Beautiful.

    The Diabetes Wound is very complex, deep, and personal. It is good to know that a loving God understands, and walks alongside each heart’s individual journey.

    Showing and receiving the same unconditional love is, indeed, the cure to a broken spirit.

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