As an intern, I was on call one night when a man was brought in to the emergency department with a bad infection of his lower leg. He couldn’t really tell us when it had first started. He said he didn’t like doctors or hospitals and was afraid of experiencing anything really painful so he ignored his symptoms until he was unable to walk or take his boot off. In fact, his neighbors hadn’t seen him in a couple of days so they called 911 and an ambulance had to bring him in. By that time, he had lost weight and had a high fever as well.
We had to cut his boot off because the swelling and pain made it impossible to slip it off his foot. The smell of decaying flesh filled the entire emergency department. After aggressively treating him with antibiotics and wound cleaning, we were able to miraculously save his leg, but only just barely. He will likely walk with a limp the rest of his life.
Some people deal with emotional wounds in a similar way. Some of these wounds are self-inflicted and others are inflicted by other people. Those suffering often try to ignore the symptoms and even deny that they are wounded. They try to ‘”just get over it”, “deal with it” and “keep a stiff upper lip”, when all the while their emotional wound festers and starts affecting every area of their life and even the lives of the people around them.
The best way to deal with a festering physical wound is to first expose it in a safe and clean environment. What is usually required is an incision to open up the wound and drain the pus and decay out. This may be very painful at the time but it is required in order for the wound to be able to start to heal. Many times it needs to be left open so that it can heal from the inside out. If you try to close it up and cover it up immediately, the wound will usually fester again.
To deal with an festering emotional wound, the place to start is to expose it in the company of a pastor, counselor, or a godly mature friend. What is usually required is opening up your heart and allowing the pain and bitterness out so that it no longer has the same place or power in your life. This may be very painful but must take place in order to start the healing process. Once the wound is brought out into the light and laid bare and open, God’s presence, His grace, and His mercy are the balm that over time will bring healing and freedom. Having someone walk alongside you in the journey keeps the healing process on track and moving forward.
A specific example of an emotional wound prone to fester is found in those who have been sexually or physically abused. Many of these victims wrongly feel they are to blame for the abuse. They often keep the abuse secret and live alone with their shame, allowing the wound to fester further. The same is true in cases of rape and date rape.
Post abortion syndrome is another example of a festering emotional wound that affects both women and men. The process of making an abortion choice, experiencing the procedure, and living with grief, pain and regret is traumatic. Those who have not honestly faced the pain of the loss of life through abortion may end up with a deep emotional wound. Denial, irritability, anger, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and alcohol abuse are some of the consequences of this festering wound that plagues many people all over the world.
Some other examples of emotional wounds are those inflicted by abandonment, bullying, or betrayal. If not dealt with, these wounds often lead to an attitude of bitterness, anger, and lack of forgiveness. This attitude is not directed just toward the perpetrator but toward others as well. Hurting people tend to hurt other people. As a doctor, I have seen many patients with all these types of emotional wounds that have ended up affected them physically also. Bringing these wounds to light and taking steps to treat them is the only way to experience relief, healing, and redemption.
The Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:18-19
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
for more information on healing the abortion wounded heart: http://www.godeeperstill.org/
For more information on healing the sexual abuse wounded heart: http://www.christianbook.com/wounded-adult-victims-childhood-sexual-abuse/dan-allender/9781600063077/pd/063070