The following is a brief summary that I found about the book Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen:
“For Nouwen, ministers must be willing to go beyond their professional role and leave themselves open as fellow human beings with the same wounds and suffering -- in the image of Christ. In other words, we heal from our own wounds.”
Growing up I had many misconceptions about pastors. I used to think that pastors had it all together. I used to think that only the cream of the crop in terms of holy and righteous living were the ones that got chosen/called. I say ‘used to’ because my pastor, Ed Heck, corrected my lenses about what a minister of the gospel looks like.
A few years ago things changed for Ed. Even though he had been a minister/pastor for many years, God was doing a new thing in his heart and life which was readily apparent to everyone. Even though he had been the pastor at Kankakee First Church of the Nazarene for more than 10 years there was the deep sense that many of us were just getting to know Ed for the very first time. Ed was always one to share stories but now more than ever before the stories were about him. His life. His past. His hurts. His wounds. That’s where the stories started anyway. Those same stories about him ended up about being about Him, his heavenly father. Time and again Ed would transition from his personal experiences of pain or difficulties to the workings of God in and through his life. This type of vulnerable story telling was transformational for Ed and those he shared with. The more he opened up the more he saw God at work. And the more he saw God at work the more he opened up.
I spent quite a few years where a large portion of my life was unknown to most everyone because I refused to share it. When that finally changed everything else changed. The largest hurdle to overcome was the deep sense that the area of pastoral ministry was off limits for me because of my story. Those misconceptions about what a pastor is like and who can be a pastor were well rooted. That is, until I heard Ed and others like him share their stories. Each story helped root up weeds that didn’t belong in my life, weeds that for years choked the life out of a call to ministry. Ed was a major part in my weed removal process.
Even though I had known Ed since he arrived in 2000 it wasn’t until these past couple of years that I had the opportunity to sit across from him and share my story. Knowing his story made sharing mine so much easier and the encouragement and affirmation that Ed provided was like water in the desert for my soul. His brokenness coupled with the humility and openness to share it became an avenue of healing for me and many others. Ed had become, as Nouwen called it, a Wounded Healer.
Back in March I had the opportunity to go before a group of elders on the church district for my district licensing interview. It was no coincidence that Ed was a part of that group. I needed him there and he was a big motivator of me being there in the first place. Sharing my story with that group of elders was so much easier knowing that there was a wounded healer in their midst. It was like having reinforcements that had my back if I needed it. When I think of Ed that is the moment I will always go to. Ed provided an element of peace for me in a situation that years earlier would have terrified me. He provided peace because that moment was preceded by his love and affirmation along with the humility and boldness to talk about his walk. All of it. Even the tough parts. Because that’s what a Wounded Healer does.
Thank you so much, Ed! You are dearly loved and will be deeply missed.