In the three years I’ve been a part of the Courage Apostolate, I’ve noticed we members are so often keenly aware of our own wounds. There can be commonalities – sometimes wounds of rejection, sometimes abuse, sometimes addiction; yet ultimately each wound is uniquely shaped in the story of each individual member. The natural inclination for any wound, be it physical or psychological, is to desire it’s healing. But when it comes to our deepest inner wounds, we must humbly ask ourselves what we mean by healing… because the healing we desire may not be the healing we need to best glorify God.

Saint Bernard wrote of the wounds of Christ, reminding us that “through the opening of these wounds I may drink honey from the rock and oil from the hardest stone; that is, I may taste and see that the Lord is sweet…” for “where does your love, your mercy, your compassion shine out more luminous than in your wounds, sweet, gentle, Lord of mercy?” 

And after his death on the cross, it was these same wounds of Jesus – his impaled hands and feet, his pierced side, that caused the Apostle Thomas to believe in the resurrected Christ; to cry out “my Lord, my God.”

So when we are asking God to heal our own wounds – what is it we are really asking for? Healing in our eyes often means removing. But the two are not always synonymous… Could it be that removing these wounds prevents us from being instruments of God’s love, mercy, and compassion? Could it be that our personal wounds – no matter how deep, painful, or seemingly ugly they may appear to be – are actually what allows others to better see, know, and believe in the resurrected Christ, just as doubting Thomas did?

On a personal level, I have, through God’s grace, made many strides in chaste living. But let’s just say chastity was not always a pursuit of mine. And as a result, I am unquestionably wounded after years of feeding sexual addiction. Consequences of this wound, coming from my own sinful choices, at times still impact the way I think and perceive things. So often this can result in feelings of shame and self-hatred, and I plead for God to take away the ugliness of these wounds. But perhaps if I am open to God’s version of healing, not merely my own version of healing, God will use this to encourage others who are struggling with addictions of their own. Or maybe God will also use these wounds to allow me to be more patient with those who are caught in the grips of sin in their own life

My wounds of rejection, or perceived inadequacy – could they be tools for Christ’s compassion to be shared with those who feel alone or misunderstood? To allow me to be a brother to those who may otherwise feel like outsiders? Only God knows, but I must give Him permission to use them as He wills.

I can’t say I’ve always felt this way about my woundedness… for many years in my life, I put on a facade of sorts, hiding the perceived dark or embarrassing aspects of my life from others, even those closest to me. Joining Courage certainly helped me in changing this. As much as we share laughter and meals together, we also, in the appropriate circumstances, offer raw vulnerability – exposing our wounds and our brokenness to one another. Yet through my own sharing with our chaplains and brother and sister members, whether in a group or in an individual manner, I’ve found that the wounds I see as hideous in myself in no way make me unlovable to others. It is my hope that I can help others, regardless of what their wounds might be, to feel the same way.

Just as the wounds inflicted on Christ caused immense pain and suffering, our own inner wounds brought by sin may cause us immense pain and suffering as well. Yet to better know and imitate Christ, we too must better know and understand suffering – and perhaps more importantly learn how to trust God in the midst of it. With Jesus at my side and the help of Courage, I never have to carry these wounds, these crosses, on my own…nor do other members of the Apostolate.

As a nurse, I deal with all types of physical wounds. I can attest to the unfortunate reality that the healing of physical wounds often causes discomfort. Cleaning and dressing wounds can be quite painful to the patient. Unsightly scabbing or scarring may occur. The process of healing can be arduous and burdensome. And it’s important to note that even when healed, remnants of the wound often remain, sometimes permanently, with the patient. But these remnants of the wound need not disappear for the tissue to be healthy and perform its function for the greater body.

Perhaps the same can be said about our internal wounds. These inner wounds of mine may never be completely taken away in this life, but just as with the physical wounds of Jesus, I trust that my own internal wounds can be used for the greater body of Christ if I surrender them to our omnipotent, merciful, and compassionate Father – the Divine Physician, who knows far more than I the healing I need to be made whole.

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Brian R. is a 32 year old in the Washington, DC area who works as a hospice nurse. He has been involved with Courage since 2018 and is active in the Baltimore, Washington, and Arlington chapters. He loves outdoor activities with friends, coffee and a good book, and quiet time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

The opinions and experiences expressed in each blog entry in “The Upper Room” belong solely to the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Courage International, Inc. Some entries have been edited for length and clarity.