Welcome Your Wounds

Recently, I heard an interview with Father Joseph Boyle, CEO of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. He’s a man (and a priest) who’s ministered to and with some of the toughest young men in one of the roughest neighborhoods in the world. He told a story of a young man, “Juan”, whose mother beat him every day because he reminded her of Juan’s father. When he was about nine-years old, she took him to Mexico and gave him to an orphanage, saying that “I found this boy on the street.” Eventually, Juan was rescued by his grandmother. Juan’s wounds from his beatings were so severe that he wore three t-shirts so that others couldn’t see his wounds.

As he grew older, wiser and more emotionally mature he stopped wearing three shirts and revealed his wounds to those he knew. He said, “I was ashamed of my wounds, but now my wounds are my friends…how can I help the wounded if I don’t welcome my own wounds?” Wow…profound!

Few of us in life have had a journey as harsh as Juan’s, but I know full-well what it’s like to hide my “wounds.” I know what it’s like to live with regret, fear and shame that I tried to hide from everyone else. I pretended that everything was okay…when I knew deep down that it wasn’t. It wasn’t until I could bring the truth of my wounds into the light that I had any chance to be healed. I wasn’t “cured” but bringing the wounds into the light began the healing process.

I cannot imagine what kind of father Juan must have had to create such havoc in his life. But today, think of the power in Juan’s story…to be able to use the unbearable situation of being fatherless, and abused and abandoned for life-giving purposes. His courage to now “welcome his wounds” for the good of those he knows is a powerful witness and example for all of us to face the wounds of our past.

This type of work certainly isn’t easy, but profound changes will occur for those who are willing to welcome their wounds. And then in-turn, this will bring healing to those with whom they have relationships. I encourage you to welcome your wounds this new year.

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