In my last article, Broken Perception Filters, I discussed how the filters we use to create our perceptions are sometimes dirty or broken causing us to develop false perceptions. Just because we perceive something to be true doesn’t mean it is. One of the things that often cause us to develop faulty perceptions are the wounds inflicted upon us from previous life events. When we understand both what our wounds are and how they cause us to interpret certain things we can gaurd our hearts against faulty perceptions.
It is not enough to know that you may have some wounds. Neither is it enough to know what those wounds are. You must also understand how those wounds affect you and how to counteract their affects. Our wounds come with messages. Lies from the enemy that he has convinced us are true of ourselves or others.
Every wound also has a trigger or several triggers. The triggers are usually words or actions connected to, or similar to, the same words or actions which inflicted the wound. When the triggers are set off, whatever words or actions set it off will be filtered through the message, the lie, left by the wound. This will cause us to develop faulty perceptions of that particle event because we interpret it through the pain of our wound.
Our wounds are very powerful too. Much stronger than logic and reason. This is because they are emotionally charged. If we have not been healed from them, or at least begun the healing process, the filter created by the wound will always over power logic and reason. The message caused by the wound will always be louder and stronger than the message created by logic and reason. Our ability to see things clearly is only as strong as our understanding of our wounds.
For example, if someone we love a great deal, and loves us a great deal, says or does something that triggers our wound; all that we know to be true about that person can be erased in a matter of minutes and replaced by the lie (or lies) created by our wounds. It’s a form of bondage. Without healing we are enslaved to see things the way our wounds dictate we see them and respond accordingly. It is a vicious cycle that is terribly hard to break free from.
So where do we start? How do we begin the healing process? How can we start to understand our wounds, the lies they created, and how they affected us? And once we understand how do we break free from them and learn how to respond from a healed heart instead of a hurt heart?
Like any recovery process it begins with acknowledging and accepting. When it comes to our wounds there are three types of people. First, there is the person who is totally clueless of their wounds. They know neither that they have any nor how they affect them. Second, there are those who know that they have some but do not know how they affect them. Third, there are those who know both that they have some and how they affect them.
We want to be the third kind of person if we want to be healed and not live enslaved to our wounds. This begins by first acknowledging the possibility that we might have some wounds, some baggage, that causes us to interpret other people’s words and actions in way that is not accurate. The reason I say the possibility is because we will sometimes discover there is no wound where we thought there might be one. If there is one we will discover it’s existence but still know very little about it. Discovery is only the first step and it begins with acknowledging the possibility.
The next step is acceptance. Acceptance is not the same as acknowledgment. We can acknowledge the possibility, discover the reality and still not accept the wound. The opposite of acknowledgment is denial. The opposite of acceptance is rejection. Stepping out of denial requires a great deal of humility and a great degree of humbleness. Stepping out of rejection requires an even greater amount of both.
Acceptance of our wounds is hard because the wounds often bring with them a serious dose of rejection – the feeling that we are less than, inadequate, do not measure up or are not good enough. To avoid these feelings it is our natural instinct to refuse to accept the wounds, the damage they’ve caused and the possibility of other mistakes we may have made because of them. We can exercise a degree of humility in acknowledging that we have wounds but still maintain a portion of our pride in rejecting them.
It is, in effect, a defense mechanism. It is our attempt at maintaining a sense of our self-worth. Rejection of the wound gaurds us from the feelings of rejection, inadequacy and a depreciated self-worth that come from the wound. At least, it makes us feel guarded from those feelings. But all it really does is shove them down somewhere deeper inside of us.
Healing requires us to face those feelings head on. Acceptance is when we come to a place of conentment about our baggage. It is where we say with the apostle Paul, “If I must boast I will boast in my weaknesses.” It is where the grace of God overtakes us. Where we realize that it is ok to be broken, hurt and all messed up. Where we realize that this doesn’t depreciate our self-worth in the slightest. Where we realize that our value does not depend on us being “fixed” people.
Acceptance is also where we face the reality that our wounds may have caused us to inflict wounds on others because we may have misinterpreted certain things at times and responded from the pain of our wound. Once we know that we have some wounds we must come to terms we these two main things: a) that our value is not dependent on our brokenness nor on our healing; and b) that our wounds may have left their own trail of pain in the lives of others.
This is where we begin. Once we have both acknowledged and accepted the wounds we have already won half the battle. But it is only half. The other half is two part. The first part is understanding them, the message they left barried in our hearts and how it affects our perception and response to certain things. The second part is learning how to identify their triggers and counteract the perception and response they would normally create. In my next article we will discuss the first part of the second half of the battle. I pray this has been a blessing to you.
– Joseph Sterling