I’ve never been shot. I am pretty sure Taylor Swift hasn’t been shot in her life, either. I don’t know – maybe she has a dark past we don’t know about, but she doesn’t strike me as the type who has ever been caught in the crossfire of a drive by or a high speed chase.
As obnoxious as most of her songs are to me (yet I seem to know EVERY WORD), the lyric in “Bad Blood” about bandaids not fixing bullet holes seems to stick in my head. There are two women in my life right now, who I happen to very close to, who are recovery from gunshot wounds. One has a very visible mark on her forearm where the bullet went in, and a long scar on the other side of her arm from where the bullet shattered a bone and had to be mended. The other has a mending hole on her right shoulder blade, where a bullet went in but was removed.
Each woman incurred said wounds in different circumstances. One was shot by a police officer. The other isn’t sure who shot her, but the perpetrator shot her and her cousin while riding in the same car. There are stories behind each wound, and I have held my hand over each one and listened to the stories they have to tell.
These women have received myriad responses to their wounds. Everything from “that looks bad!” to “all things work together for good”. I am not sure what the proper response is to someone who says they were shot. It sounds painful, embarrassing, messy, and hard. I imagine there is a little bit of pride in there, too, at least according to what I have learned about life on the streets. Getting shot means you’ve been there, you’ve lived through something. You’re “hard” enough to survive a fun shot.
Every time I see these wounds and hear their stories, I think about what healing means and how the healing process for flesh wounds is not that different from the healing process for emotional and heart wounds. If you leave a wound unattended, it festers and becomes infected. Over time, it becomes impossible to treat and the damage can be irreversible. Heart wounds created by words, abuse, separation, or even just ignorance work the same way, they just don’t bleed or look infected to the naked eye. If we never tend to our anger, pain, sadness, grief, and brokenness, these things will fester and the wounds will deepen and widen, creating so much damage that healing may seem impossible.
The good news is that it is never too late to heal, but the longer we wait the more difficult the process is. What could have been a one hour surgery turns into a multi-day process. Would could have been healed in a conversation or two now becomes a year-long process of restoration and forgiveness.
Putting a band aid over a bullet wound may cover up the ugly mess or stop the bleeding for a moment, but it doesn’t mend what has been shattered. Our hearts and minds are no different. We don’t need short term fixes. We all need long term restoration and healing, regardless of how the wound was inflicted.