your wounds are yours and yours alone

"Your Wounds are Yours" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Your Wounds are Yours” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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Your wounds are yours! It doesn’t matter who inflicted them, who gave them to you. They’re now yours!

I got some abusive emails from a pastor. I shared them with my support. He found out I shared them. He was offended that I would share his emails with people. He abused me. I showed my wounds. He felt I had no right to share what he believed wasn’t mine, but his!

It’s like shooting someone with an arrow and coming to ask for it back. No way! It’s mine now.

Anne Lamott has said: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

Your wounds are yours! Don’t be afraid of embarrassing your aggressor or abuser. They threw the ball, lobbed the missile, shot the arrow, into your body! Now it’s yours.

When a church and its leadership abuses you, they have given you something that is now totally yours. Share it!

It is still shocking to me when I see all the maneuvers to silence people from sharing their experiences and showing their wounds. All kinds of reasons are given: it’s embarrassing; it’s not helpful; it will compromise the cause; it’s not glorifying to Christ; it maligns the Church, the Bride of Christ; it’s not true; there’s no corroboration; it’s too ugly and inappropriate; it’s risky for you to do so; etcetera.

But those wounds are yours! No one else can or should tell you what to do with them. You can do whatever you want with them. They’re yours and yours alone! No one has rights on your property.

I do understand that sometimes it’s not safe to share your wounds. I emphasize: always make sure you are safe first.

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14 Responses

  1. Caryn LeMur says:

    Well said, David! When a private email is received, I offer that we should endeavor to keep the vulnerable disclosures in private… but not the wounds, the insults, the abuse, or the manipulation.

    Such evil things need to be exposed. Perhaps disclosed in a phased manner… but it is amazing how many people assume an expectation of privacy when they email insults, continue abuse, or attempt to manipulate someone into silence.

    Keep up the good work. It is time for judgment to begin at the house of God.

  2. Thanks Caryn. That’s how I understand that verse too.

  3. David Waters says:

    Really speaks to me David. I grew up with a bully older brother who inflicted much physical and emotional pain. I’d tell my dad who would then beat my brother who would then make me feel guilty about it and punish me. The cycle of violence was hideous. When I wrote my memoir, it was the single most therapeutic thing I’d ever done. The bully brother attempted to sue me. The book wasn’t about him. But his guilty conscience ate him up!

  4. Well that’s a perfect analogy David… but a real story too! thanks for sharing that.

  5. As I prepare to put some memories in my blog, I will keep this in mind. I still think some things are better left unsaid. I decided not to share the memories of my first congregation served as a pastor until one specific person died. She lived to be 104 and we became pen pals. However, when I was her pastor, she wounded lots of people. Not me particularly, but others. I did get the nerve to help her make some changes in her life, but she left (for employment) before I could determine if it made a difference in the church.

    Her main “fault” was that she volunteered for everything and eventually others just backed off and let “Mae” do it. I finally told her that it would be better to leave tasks undone than for her to do them alone. She actually heard me.

    The wounds were often “old” wounds, but prior to my arrival she was Sunday School Superintendent and one of her teachers didn’t show up. She confronted that woman for her “sin” in public at the grocery store. The woman never forgave her. She proclaimed she would never return “as long as that woman is there”. Her anger was so deep that when that “woman” left, she did not return. Her reason for not showing up that Sunday morning was that her daughter went into labor and had a baby, so getting her to the hospital and being with her trumped her teaching responsibility. Probably Sunday school was the last thing on her mind. As an outsider, I was not able to bring any healing to her hurt, though I could understand it.

  6. Great work David. Really appreciate it.

  7. Kelly says:

    Here’s an article I recently had a discussion about in the comments after it was posted on facebook. It’s exactly what this article is about, in my opinion.
    http://www.faithit.com/open-letter-people-writing-sharing-open-letters-whats-wrong-church/

  8. Dr. Archer says:

    Thank you so so so so so so so so much for this post. A friend shared this post with me today because I just published a super vulnerable raw account on my blog yesterday. It is a very scary thing to publish and make public a story that has been hidden for years and exposes the evil of others.

    http://www.archerfriendly.com/2015/01/that-time-when-i-ran-away-with-a-forty-year-old-guy-from-the-internet-part-1

    I especially love your post because I truly believe deep down in the marrow of my bones that we need to tell our stories to heal our body. Our body holds onto the abuse, and I see it manifest before my eyes, that our pain manifests in the body when we are not able to share our pain and expose evil for what it is. I truly believe that doing what you wrote in your post brings your body, physically, to a whole new level of health. I see more “collected” health problems in those who have un-dealt-with pain from the past than those who have done the work.

    I posted that account (link above) because I want to BE that example to my patients. I want to inspire them to tell their stories to a safe person, to get them out. Telling our stories has that benefit of inspiring others to heal.

    Thank you again for this post. It really brought me so much comfort today.

    Love,
    Dr. Archer

  9. kris799 says:

    Absolutely. One tactic of abusers is to isolate you. They make you think you are going crazy and that everyone is against you. Always shine a light on the abused.

  10. Wow. Thanks everyone. Modeling vulnerability with strength! Yes!

  11. David Waters says:

    When we write, we’re able to put a period at the end of a thought and move on. Rather than play it over and over in our minds like we have for decades. That is the therapeutic beauty in writing, for me.

  12. David Waters says:

    In that link, it sounds like Whitney Capps wants to silence the oppressed. Take it like a Wife/Bride is the exclamation. I think Jesus came to set us free from the man made institution of church.

  13. Lynda Gruen says:

    Yeah, that Whitney Capps article serves to silence survivors of spiritual abuse. All she’s doing is lecturing us. She’s not listening, and her attitude just drives away those of us who have already been silenced in the church — people for whom Jesus also died.

    When she talks about the spouse example, what she’s actually saying is that we should not talk trash about the body parts she cares about. When other parts are hurting, though, apparently she expects those other parts to keep silent about their hurt, even though what happens is the body becomes or remains dysfunctional as a result.

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