Losses can inflict wounds on a man, and mistakes can cause serious injury as well. Embarrassment, rejection, failure, and regret all cause emotional wounds that are rarely healed properly. Much like a physical wound, we get defensive about our emotional wounds, doing everything we can to keep those wounds from encountering anything that might cause additional pain. For that reason, emotional wounds are the hardest to protect and the slowest to heal.
Break your arm, and the doctor will place a protective cast or sling on it. People can see your arm is injured. They can maneuver around you to prevent further injury or pain, choose to shake your opposite hand or hug or embrace you in such a way as to avoid impacting the injured arm. By contrast, emotional wounds don't come with a bandage or visible protective wrap to alert others to the need to move carefully around that sensitive area. Strangers won't know you suffered abuse as a child, or that your father rejected you early in life. Friends may be completely in the dark about your mother's drug addiction that left you to fend for yourself, alone, on many nights. Co-workers may be blind to the fact that the mother of your children refuses to allow you to interact with them, causing you to be distracted and unfocused on the job. Emotional wounds, unlike physical ones, are hidden from view.
Whose responsibility is it to protect our emotional wounds? The person who is unaware that the wound even exists, or the carrier? As the carrier, you must be the one to heal and recover from the wounds you possess. Any injury kept bandaged for too long will eventually become infected. A fresh wound exposed to air and ointment will heal in time. Emotional wounds that remain covered up by bandages of silence and secrecy will become infected with insecurity, shame, and bitterness. We must expose emotional trauma to the air of truth and then apply the ointment of courage. Once we heal, the offending event will no longer serve as a crutch or an excuse for mistreating others. Emotional wounds run deep and can be too embarrassing to reveal to others, but we must see them as reflections of the past, not snapshots into our future. Scars are like fingerprints that contain some aspect of our identity. They symbolize the hurt and pain inflicted upon us that we must bury in the graves of the past. If we choose daily to dig up and resurrect those things, we will never experience the benefits that closing the gap between the past and the future stands to offer us. Many men are stuck and unable to move forward due to what happened years ago. That's what an emotional wound does to a man - it leaves him stuck. The emotional memory tries to heal, but he repeatedly relives it, cutting and reopening it. The power of choice is the only difference between the man who heals and the man who doesn't.
At this very moment, you have a choice, and for some, it will be easy. For others, it will be one of the most challenging decisions you will ever make. It all comes down to how deeply the pain has reached within your life. Still, the power of choice remains available for men willing to take advantage of it. You can choose to stay fixed in the past, which gives strength and control of your future back over to your past, or you can release that shackle and free yourself to enter into hope for your future. The key that unlocks shackles is forgiveness.