As we trudge through this life, we are shot repeatedly by poisoned arrows, each word an attack on our very soul. These arrows may be removed, through the form of an apology or changed behavior, but they leave their poison behind, festering and oozing with infection.
And we push on, continuing to live with the infection affecting the quality of every day. But, usually there is no way to clean and dress the wounds by ourselves.
So as we walk on, we encounter others in our world.
Some are just onlookers, with no real impact. Some are faraway cheerleaders. Some may stay at enough of a distance to shoot another arrow at us.
Then there are some who get closer. These people touch us. They reach into our space and impact our life in some way. They may be friends, lovers, children, or authorities in our life.
But sometimes the touch is painful. If they happen to touch that poisoned flesh, say something similar, respond in a way that looks like that poisoned arrow we have already felt rip into our flesh, we immediately recoil in pain, perhaps even striking back defensively. A relationship with someone who does not recognize the pain and the poison of the past quickly becomes toxic, draining our energy and causing more pain, even if, as it is in so many cases, it is truly unintentional.
The most challenging thing about this life is the fact that EVERYONE has been shot with at least a few poisonous arrows in their lifetime. I have been guilty of being the archer on more than one occasion. And I can guarantee that you have also. But everyone has been infected by some poison that taints their world. Whether it was the words a parent or authority figure spoke to them as a child, the teasing of classmates, or a lover’s silence, those arrows have poisoned the very essence of who we are.
The beauty in life comes in finding people who recognize the type of poison that we are carrying around, they take the time to dress our wounds and draw out the poison, even if it is a painful process. The people who see your wounds, the people who know your poison, and they stay, they fight for you, they hunt for the right poultice, they do everything in their power to see you healed, those are the relationships we should seek out.
Because they are only human, it is a natural occurrence for these people to accidentally shoot an occasional arrow, but when they realize they have done so, they are quick to not only pull it out, but bathe it in the salve of apology, love and communication.
So often, we are drawn to those who touch our wounded flesh, who continue to apply pressure and push that poison deeper, closer to our heart, because we believe they are helping us, we think that incredible pain is a sign of growth. It is a common way to live, in the familiarity of our own stench, wrapped up with no light or air getting to our wounds.
But when we find that person, or those people, the people who take the pressure off and let us see the festering wounds for what they are, who allow the wounds to breathe, to be what they are, those who tenderly apply a poultice of love, who kindly and oh, so gently, wrap our wounds in grace and forgiveness, we tend to believe that nothing is happening.
We are so accustomed to the pain that life feels oddly strange without it, empty even. We have made our wounds our identity and we don’t know what we would do if they were to heal. So we reject the people who are pouring healing oil into our life. We reject those who could give us the very thing that we desire. We choose familiarity over wholeness.
Beware the people in your life. Give great thought to who you allow in your inner circle. “Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”. Are the people in your intimate circle bringers of hope, love, joy, peace? Or do they continually remind you of your wounds, identifying you only as the arrows that have wounded you? Do they wrap you in forgiveness and grace? Or do they shoot arrows of condemnation? The people you associate with will determine the direction of your life. Even when it feels unfamiliar, or scary, try to ensure that the people you surround yourself with are people that bring light to your darkness.
And be one of those people. Do not put pressure on your own wounds. Allow yourself to breathe. Rest. Know that time brings healing. Stop trying to force things, because you are only committing slow suicide by doing so. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Be graceful to everyone, most importantly, yourself.