P.O.W.’s (Prisoner of Wounds)

Most of us have areas of life that we know about, areas we can offer counsel or comfort in, but do not know from the personal experience perspective. There are other areas where we not only can offer counsel from the word of God but we can also express through our own experience counsel and comfort that is exclusive to those who have walked someone else’s shoes. This chapter is one of the personal experience areas for me in regard to having self inflicted wounds and being a prisoner of the wounds you created. Maybe some who are reading this are bearing the consequences of forgiven sins in your life. Maybe the act of infidelity was on your part and you lost your marriage over a foolish decision. Maybe you lost a job because of addiction and are now addiction free yet bearing the consequences of the past. Maybe you damaged a friendship beyond repair and now live under the pain of knowing this may never be restored. Maybe you feel like a POW, prisoner of wounds, wounds you created yourself and that forgiveness and hope will always be out of reach for you. 

This is an area where I would not hesitate to consider myself as an expert because it has been my life for many years. My past is dark and ugly and violent and while it is not who I am anymore, it is who I was for many years and the past infiltrates the present many times in the way of awful memories of events and actions I wish with all my heart would have never happened. But they did. I count myself very fortunate to have a marriage that survived but I know that not all do. I know that some are not as fortunate as I have been and they have more than just awful memories that pop up in their minds but have a daily reality they must face as a result of their actions leaving them to live with self inflicted wounds. There is hope for you too and God is still in the miracle business and He is still the “repairer of the breach” and restorer of years “eaten by the consuming locust” of sin. (Isaiah 58:12 and Joel 2:25 respectively) But just as in previous chapters this does not happen by osmosis, even though forgiveness is total and instantaneous when sin is confessed and repentance has come, like those who have had things forced on them that wounded them there are steps you can take in learning to Dance with the Scars of self inflicted wounds.

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12

Perhaps you wish you could put some mental and emotional distance between your self inflicted wounds and your life today. I cannot even count the times I have recalled something I did as young man that I would give anything to forget. They come in like a flood at times from nowhere, sometimes at night I remember them and wish I could change them, sometimes I am driving alone in the car and something comes to mind and I audibly groan or even weep. I have had times where I have cried out “Oh God! please forgive me!” even though God has and even brought such wonderful healing and restoration into my life and I know my past is separated from me as far as east from west and that God “remembers my sins no more.” I still have trouble forgetting them myself. What do we do then? How do we Dance with the Scars when we were the one who created them? The first thing to realize is that we often overcomplicate things with “remedies” in hopes of changing our “reality.” The problem is reality doesn’t change but we need to recognize that; The past will always be present in our hearts but it need not rule the present in our minds. There is one word that can set us on the path of Dancing with the self inflicted Scars and that is “believe.” Believe that what Christ did on the cross completely covered your sins, which may be many and most of them under the category of great sins in the eyes of the world. A British head of a mental Institution is reported to have said;  “I could dismiss half my patients tomorrow if they could just be assured of forgiveness.”

Maybe this is you, you’re having a hard time being convinced of or enjoying your forgiveness because the reality is staring you in the face everyday in the form of consequences from the past. I have had to recognize that the past is always going to be present in my mind and memories but I must choose what to do with it. It can own me, or I can own it. I own it by understanding the reality of what Jesus did for me on the cross, That God’s love for me was not just communicated by His words but it was also demonstrated by His actions. His actions on my behalf on a cross through a death I deserved.  

I often viewed myself in the past as the guy that God was going to have to sneak into to heaven lest others cry foul on my arrival. What I have come to know and believe is that I am not going to heaven based on what I have done or not done, I have come to know and understand that I am going to heaven because of what Christ has done for me! Those who would look down on me for my past have no more right to heaven than I, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23). My self inflicted wounds that have now long scarred over were not what was keeping me from heaven, my sins, though many, were not too great for the blood of Christ to cover and what was keeping me from heaven is the same sin that keeps anyone else from there and that is, unbelief. I must insert something here and that is that true belief is always proven by confession of sin and repentance and I do not accept the “easy believism” that is often taught today. Yes, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved but all who truly believe will also confess their sins and repent. When I began to believe that my forgiveness was just as legitimate as anyone else’s and realized that heaven and hell will both be populated with sinners, I began to understand that to doubt my own forgiveness was to diminish the work and blood of Christ on the cross. I began to understand that if God forgave me, who am I to not walk in and enjoy that forgiveness? Does that mean I act as though my past never happened and remembering it is a sin? Not at all. I know there is a chance that some who are reading this have had life altering consequences for their forgiven sin, prison, divorce, broken family relationships, very painful consequences of sins God has completely forgiven. We must come to realize that while there are great and small sins, they are all sins. 

Excerpt from “Dancing With the Scars” now available on Amazon.

BARRY STAGNER

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