I’ve been playing nursemaid lately — nurturing a brood of little growers. My charges aren’t babies. They aren’t even human. They’re wounds.
For some reason, I have an impulse to pay much attention to wounds, as if to foster them until they are strong enough to stand on their own. I’m not even talking about physical wounds; I mean emotional ones:
- I got into a foolish debate with a friend online.
- My opinion at work wasn’t asked.
- A blogger I don’t know insulted my worldview.
- Someone is leaving my ministry, which I interpret as a failure of my leadership.
These are not worthy topics on which to meditate. They are unhelpful distractions. But I can’t help nursing them. Instead of letting healing do its slow work, I pick at the scabs, hoping to bleed. I check in on them to see how they’re doing. Still painful? Still capable of producing outrage? Still cast me appropriately as the victim? Good. Keep festering. I’ll check back in a few hours.
I can’t imagine Jesus doing this, though he must have been tempted to. Jesus had his fair share of verbal barbs before he faced physical thorns. His opponents baited him, ridiculed him, marginalized him, and accused him. But Jesus didn’t brood. You never see Jesus sitting around with his disciples rehashing the last theological debate. “And another thing those Pharisees are wrong about…” Jesus was somehow able to receive wounds — both verbal and physical — without harboring animosity toward those who delivered them.
Call Jesus a lunatic? He’ll ignore the charge and invite you to join him. (Mark 3:20-35) Accuse Jesus of witchcraft? He'll expose your motives and move along. (Matt. 12:22-37) Expose Jesus breaking religious rules? He’ll take advantage of the teaching moment. (Matt. 12:1-14)
I don’t know how, exactly, to follow Jesus’ lead here, but I suspect it will involve two steps, the same two steps that seem to hold every secret of Christian living: prayer and scripture. This morning, I prayed about my little brood of hurts and handed them over to God. Surrender is critical to walking with Jesus. I know I will be tempted to take them back from him, but it was healing to write them down and release them. And after I did so, a verse came to mind: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about these things.” (Php. 4:8)
Setting my mind on things above (Col. 3:1-5) seems to help me take my eyes off things below, and sets me free from playing nursemaid.