Nearly fifty years ago Henri Nouwen wrote a book entitled, The Wounded Healer. Its reception established his reputation as unique spiritual mentor and he went on to become one of the most influential spiritual writers of the past half-century. What made his writings so powerful? His brilliance? His gift for expression? He was gifted, yes, but so are many others. What set him apart was that he was a deeply wounded man and from that disquieted place inside him issued forth words that were a healing balm to millions.
How does this work? How do our wounds help heal others? They don’t. It’s not our wounds that help heal others. Rather our wounds can color our gifts and talents in such a way so that they no longer educe resistance and envy in others but instead become what God meant them to be, gifts to grace others.
Sadly, the opposite is often true. Our gifts and talents often become the reason we’re disliked and perhaps even hated. There’s a curious dynamic here. We don’t automatically, nor easily, let the gifts of others grace us. More often, we’re reluctant to admit their beauty and power and we resist and envy those who possess them and sometimes even hate them for their gifts. That’s one of the reasons we find it hard to simply admire someone.