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Wound Stages | Church Wounds Part 2

It was the middle of a fifth-grade kickball matchup during recess and I was up. The pitcher released the rubber ball and it came at me, bouncing over small tufts of grass growing on the well-used field. I made my approach, threw back my leg and swung in the direction of the ball. My foot connected with a ka-thunk and the ball soared up over the heads of the opposition. With haste, I took off running for first base. As I rounded the base heading for second, I found myself falling. The base slid out from under me, the result of loose bark that had spilled over from the playground. 

Surprised--embarrassed too--I got up and kept running...around second, making it to third before the ball was back to the infield. “Without that fall,” I thought, “I would have made it home.” It was only after taking my place on the base that I looked down. Reality started setting in. My knee was a bloody mess, dripping down to stain my white sock. My palms stung. Gone was my determination to make it to home plate. I panicked. 

A friend helped me limp, tears streaking my cheeks, to the school office where the secretary/nurse did a quick assessment and called my mom.

Art is my own

We’ve all had them. 
So when someone talks about a “church wound” we inherently understand what’s meant. My guess is we probably involuntarily relate the concept to our skin. We know what a skin wound is like, so we inadvertently apply that knowledge to a more ambiguous topic. I’m not sure why it took me as long as it did--except that God’s timing is right on time--and I don’t remember exactly what lead me to research wounds, infection and scars--except that I’m convinced God moved me to do it--but the act of exploring wounds within the medical world helped my healing process. God knows I am, at least in part, a visual learner. I like having parallels to attach to spiritual concepts. This is how many concepts grow depth in me. And once He gives me a nudge, I tend to run with it.

God created everything with purpose and design, so when I started to think of my own recent church wound in terms of actual medical terminology and process, it really helped connect the dots for me. I hope as we go through this series, the real-time information and research shared will be a help for you, too. 

As we approach the idea of “church wounds” in this series, and the parallels church wounds have with skin wounds, I think it is important to define our terms. When we talk about wounds, what do we mean? That’s what we’ll discuss in this post.

A search online brought me to discover four different wound stages. The stages increase in severity from stage 1 to stage 4. If we’re making a connection from skin wounds to church wounds, it seems important to understand that wounds come in all shapes and sizes. Not all are equal in severity. Not all wounds are caused in the same way. Just like skin wounds, church wounds can be accidental, purposeful, inflicted by others, or even caused by our own foolishness and lack of attention to what’s going on around us. Introspection and evaluation are needed components to determine exactly what type of wound we’re dealing with--we need the Spirit’s leading in this process. Learning the medical stages of wounds can be helpful with that self-evaluation.

Stage 1 - These wounds do not break the skin’s surface. The skin might have a slight change of color, an increase in temperature, and/or a change of texture, but the skin isn’t broken. Even though the wound isn’t severe, there can be a certain degree of pain associated with a stage 1 wound. 

Stage 2 - These wounds are typically superficial breaks in the outermost layer(s) of skin. There’s usually not a lot of bleeding. Examples of this stage include blisters and abrasions. Abrasions happen when skin rubs/scrapes against a rough or hard surface. Pain accompanies a stage 2 wound.

Stage 3 - These wounds are characterized by “full-thickness tissue loss.” Sometimes small sections of bone, fat, muscle can be exposed, but not to a large-scale degree. These types of wounds can have a range of complications, including infection, and are painful.

Stage 4 - These wounds are the most serious in terms of treatment and care. They typically feature severe damage or loss of skin tissue. Often bone and muscle will be exposed. Because nerve endings in this type of wound are routinely damaged, the person may not feel pain levels that match the wound’s severity. Surgery is often needed for this type of wound. 

I find having language to describe what I’m thinking, feeling, experiencing, is helpful for processing and for healing. As I look back, I would have to say my recent church wound is between a stage 3 and a stage 4. I’m the type of person who will never answer an “on a scale from 1 to 10” question with either a 1 or a 10. Things could always be worse and could always be better here on this side of heaven, at least in my mind. So it would be difficult for me to say that my church wound is a stage 4--the worst possible of wounds. But I will say that I went back and forth between extreme pain and numbness. And it’s taken a whole long time to heal, consistent with a stage 3 or 4. 

Along the way, I’ve experienced other wounds, less severe, but still with a degree of pain. I don’t think that’s something we can avoid. I’m not sure if my recent wound was avoidable either. It also didn’t necessarily come as a surprise, though it did shatter my hopes and expectations. A few years before the major incident, I was convicted by an interim pastor that by being silent in what I was learning as I read my Bible as compared to what I was observing in my church, I was being part of the problem. I took that to heart and started trying to do better at challenging and asking questions. Sometimes I wonder if I had learned to do that sooner, if somehow, someway, something could be different. That’s where I must rely heavily on God’s sovereignty...when there’s so much I don’t understand. 

Perhaps that’s a similar place to where you find yourself today? Playing the what-if game as you examine your wounds? If so, let the introspection carry you to the throne of grace. 

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Blessedly, as believers, we don’t serve a god who is far-removed from suffering. As we examine our own wounds, it’s good for us to remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the suffering servant. Jesus knows wounds. Jesus WAS wounded. 

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (ISA 53:3-6)

For the believer with church wounds, we serve a Savior who knows our suffering. He felt the thorns and whips. His very hands and feet received nails. His side, a sword. And these things were done to Him by his people. By the Jews. By the religious leaders of the day...so, in effect, by church. Our Savior knows church wounds. 

Yes, while there is introspection that needs to happen, both in determining our wound’s severity as well as its cause, we can be confident that Jesus knows, understands and sees our wounds. By faith, let’s take comfort in that as we examine our wounds.

More in the series:
Going and Staying: Church Wounds Part 1
Wound Stages | Church Wounds Part 2
We Needed Stitches | Church Wounds Part 3
Infection | Church Wounds Part 4
Scars | Church Wounds Part 5

Part 2 Sources:

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Writer's Note: Because I anticipate this series to be emotionally taxing for me, I am not sure how long it will take for me to write and publish the pieces. I ask for your patience with the process! And as always, you're more than welcome to subscribe to my blog for notifications on newly published pieces.


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