Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
A few days before Thanksgiving, I was slicing red peppers with anxious fingers, an ill-suited knife, and recently trimmed fingernails. It was a recipe for disaster that required a trip to Urgent Care to clean and bandage the wound properly. When the nurse removed my flimsy bandages, we discovered that more of the tip my thumb was missing than originally thought.
While soaking my thumb in cleansing solution, I joked with the doctor and nurse about being the first of many culinary mishap patients that week. They agreed and I was gladly relieved of kitchen duties for the week as my thumb began to heal.
During the first few nights, I was unpleasantly surprised by excruciating throbbing underneath the layers of gauze. How could one little cut be more painful than a migraine headache? But that pain convicted me of the need to carefully follow the doctors advice and use the one-eighth inch flap of tissue as a protective covering over the exposed flesh for as long as possible.
Carefully tending to the wound became part of my daily routine. Eventually, it dawned on me that keeping the original piece of flesh in place and a bandage of some sort on it, allowed new layers of skin to grow back one at a time. Healing was slowly happening from within.
The same is true for the soul. Prayer is the “urgent care” we go to when we find ourselves leaning on our own understanding and relying on our wisdom rather than the Lord’s. Healing and refreshment occur when our daily routine includes the inner work of trusting, acknowledging, and turning toward God.
As a spiritual director, I know the Lord is more concerned with our inward state than outward status. And as I listen to my directees and recognize the physical, emotional, and spiritual courage required to maintain a healthy fear of the Lord, I wonder if I possess their courage. In the past year, I have intentionally sought to turn away from the evils of anxiety and resentment. I have sought inward healing in order possess outward resiliency.
One day during Advent, I no longer put gauze or a bandage on my thumb. The piece of dead tissue came off on its own as the doctor said it would. There are healthy layers of skin covering the wound now. However, the nerves on the tip of my thumb are not the same and I feel a little sting when my thumb touches something.
I am choosing to receive this sensitivity as a Christmas gift and a reminder to use right tools in the kitchen and to let the Lord help me stay on right, resilient paths. In the new year…in the new decade…may our outward actions and attitudes mirror the deeper inner healing the Lord is doing in our lives.