Pain can make you feel disqualified from leading. The images media portrays would make you think leaders aren’t supposed to limp, bleed, or hurt. But this has not been the reality in my life. My areas of greatest impact for God have come from my places of deepest wounding.
My wounds make me sensitive to the wounded. My wounds open me up to more of God.
God revealed His ability to use my pain during an ordinary day working at the hospital. From the moment I walked into the exam room I could feel a connection, wounded heart to wounded heart. No words were needed. The blood running down the tips of her fingers was all the evidence need of the pain. Not just the pain in her body, but the pain ravishing her soul.
Around one wrist a charm bracelet hung covered in red. I needed to remove it to repair the self-inflicted cuts. My gloved hands worked on the latch. Finally it released and fell to the exam table. Spread out with all its little trinkets on display lay her memories, two small tags with engraved names, reminders of the little ones she would have left behind had her attempt to end her life had been successful.
Wife, mother, daughter, friend. This was not just a wounded person, but someone’s beloved.
Somewhere a child was being put to bed wondering when mommy was coming home. Somewhere one side of the bed was cold as a husband lay inquiring what he could have done to help his depressed wife. Somewhere a friend sat with hands wringing and tears flowing for the life death could have claimed this night. Somewhere a parent pleaded with heaven to heal the pain they saw in the eyes of their little girl.
In the midst of the controlled setting of the hospital room, I could feel myself becoming undone.
So in-between the cleaning and prepping of her wounds, in-between the needle going in and out of her flesh, and in-between her tears and grimaces, I prayed.
I prayed for every wife, mother, daughter, friend whose pain has become too great for her to bear.
I prayed the church would not make her feel less than for the pills she takes to make it through each day or the counselor she sees to help her work through her mental baggage.
I prayed God would send sisters along beside her to share their story of pain, so she would know she is not the only one having a hard time balancing it all.
In that moment God awakened my heart. I was not only praying for her, but I was praying for the courage to be real with her. I was praying for the courage to lead in the midst of my own brokenness.
You see I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I don’t want to expose my scars and I certainly don’t want you to see my wounds. Sitting in that room face to face with one even more broken, it was time to lead from where I was at. So I asked her the one question that popped in my head. It was the only question needed to bring down her walls.
“Show me where it hurts.”
Show me the time when you believe God abandoned you to fight this battle on your own. Show me the event which has caused you to move from hope to despair. Show me the pain that has entered your life to such a degree it has left you deeply wounded. Show me the moment when trust was violated and joy didn’t come in the morning. Show me. Show someone. Show anyone.
Leaders lead right where they are, even when the wounds are visible and the pain is real.
There are times I still question if God can use someone as broken as I. During those times I remind myself that God is not intimidated by my woundedness. I can be confident in His wholeness.
Saundra Dalton-Smith M.D. is a Board Certified internal medicine physician. She shares with audiences nationwide on the topics of eliminating limiting emotions, finding grace in difficult places, and experiencing personal renewal by drawing near to God. Dr. Dalton-Smith is a national and international media resource on the mind, body, spirit connection and has been featured in Women’s Day, Redbook, and First For Women magazine. She is the founder of I Choose My Best Life. Her books include Come Empty: Pour Out Life’s Hurts and Receive God’s Healing Love and the award-winning Set Free to Live Free: Breaking Through the 7 Lies Women Tell Themselves.