When I was a young clinician, I thought my ministry was about
helping others heal. I little suspected how much my own healing
was at issue. But pastoral theologian Henri Nouwen's image of the
pastoral counselor as "wounded healer" made sense to me even
Nouwen claims that the scars of our own suffering can become an
indispensable source of healing for others, if we are willing to
accept that brokenness in ourselves.To ask others to confront their
own brokenness, we must find courage to face our own. Of course,
as we have heard, to see the splinter in the other is often easier
than to see the log in ourselves. But such conscience self-awareness
is the basis for authentic empathy with others. Opening up to our
own or to another's suffering threatens to break us, too. But Nouwen
made a spiritual claim--that such opening also created a potential
place of God's grace, that God entered into our suffering. Nouwen
believed that if the walls of self-sufficiency were breached, a
form of divine empathy could be discovered. We are all bound by
our brokenness, and yet our brokenness is bound by God.
essay "Bound by Brokenness"
by Ron Johnson, Ph.D.
the essay in its entirety.