The first time I heard the phrase "wounded healer" was while reading the book Abba Child by Brennan Manning.
Manning tells a story that is taken from the play "The Angel That Troubled the Waters" by Thornton Wilder. It is based on the Bible story found in John 5:1-4.
The story goes like this . . .
A wounded physician goes to the pool to be healed. But every time he begins to step into the healing waters of the pool, an angel blocks him from entering the waters. The wounded physician cries for his healing, but the angel repeatedly tells him that today is not the day for his healing.
Day after day, he sees others stepping into the waters with their wounds and leaving the waters without them. They are healed while he is still wounded.
Confused and brokenhearted, he cries out to the angel that stirs the healing waters but the angel replies, "Without your wounds where would your power be?"
The angel explains that it is the very wounds he so longs to be free of that causes others to listen to him. It is his wounds that allow him to do what no angel could ever do. His wounds are what allows him to comfort and to encourage those who are broken and who are living in despair.
As the physician is trying to absorb the words of the angel, a man who has just received his healing from the waters comes to him, and asks him to go to his home and speak to his son and daughter. Their lives have fallen apart, and they will not listen to anyone. But, the healed man knows his broken children will listen to the broken physician.
"In Love's service, only wounded soldiers can serve."
After reading this story from Abba Child, I read it to my Aunt Sarah.
She was a Wounded Healer.
She was my Wounded Healer.
Because Aunt Sarah was never a wife or a mother, I often wondered as I sat at her kitchen table and my tears dripped into my cup of coffee, if she really understood all of the fears and disappointments I shared with her.
But even while I wondered if she understood, morning after morning, I kept returning to that table to sit and to share with her.
Aunt Sarah was safe.
With Aunt Sarah, I never felt judged.
I felt free to be honest. To be myself.
Regardless of what I shared with her, she smiled and always pointed me to Jesus.
I knew what she was going to say before she ever said it, but I always wanted to hear her say it again.
"Cheri, His grace is sufficient."
Because of her wounds, and because of her joy, I knew it was true.
Aunt Sarah left me with an inheritance more precious than silver or gold.
Aunt Sarah chose to be a Wounded Healer to me, to my children, to my sister, to my cousins, and to her friends at AA.
Because of Aunt Sarah, I know that I can go through life and lay down my fig-leaves.
I do not have to hide my failures or my wounds.
Aunt Sarah allowed her failures and her wounds to be evidence of God's mercy, and of His power, and of His love, to all who knew her.
I pray my failures and wounds will be evidence of the same.
As God's grace was sufficient for Aunt Sarah, who is now completely healed and glorified into the image of Christ, so His grace will also be sufficient for me, and for you.
I love you Aunt Sarah.