Monday, April 28, 2014

Marks of Recognition

When Jesus appears to his disciples after the resurrection, he shows them his hands and his side so they will know it is really is him whom they are seeing. It is his wounds that make him recognizable to his closest friends. I wonder if they would have believed if Jesus had had a perfect body, with no marks of his crucifixion visible.

If Jesus’ wounds, a part of his resurrected body, are that important to his being recognized, then why do we so often live in denial of our own wounds? We are shaped to a large degree by the acts that have hurt us either physically or emotionally, yet we live in a culture that encourages us to cover up anything that causes us to appear less than perfect.

When we deny our wounds, when we hide them from others and ourselves, we become hard, bitter and intolerant of others. Language of such denial and intolerance includes some of these phrases: stiff upper lip, cowboy up, put on your big girl panties, get over it.

There is a difference between acknowledging our wounds and being defined by them. If you are familiar with the tales of Winnie the Pooh, you know that Eeyore the donkey was defined by his wounds. He saw all of life through a negative lens and his dismal outlook defined who he was. His wounds caused him to be stuck in a place of hopelessness and despair. Wounds sometimes do that to people.

But wounds can transform us. Wounds precede resurrection. When we acknowledge our woundedness instead of denying it, we open ourselves up to the opportunity for transformation and rebirth. Such rebirth cannot happen as long as we fail to accept that we bear the marks of pain on our souls or bodies.

Silence and self-reflection open us up to acknowledge that we do in fact have wounds, and to allow those wounds to be tools to our transformation. Imagine how the world could be transformed if we tenderly acknowledged not only our wounds but those of others, and loved each other into new lives where our wounds allowed others to recognize us for who we really are—broken and beloved children of a broken and beloved Christ.

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