Healing the Wounded Heart, Part One

On this week’s podcast, Dan Allender launches a three-part series engaging the themes of his upcoming book, Healing the Wounded Heart: The Heartache of Sexual Abuse and the Hope of Transformation. The new book, scheduled for release at the beginning of next month, is a 25-year retrospective about what Dan has learned working with sexually abused men and women in the years since his first book, The Wounded Heart.

“Healing is not only available, it’s certain. The only question is, How do I partake and participate in the work of restoration?”

Before diving into the content of the book, Dan addresses the stance that he hopes readers will take when approaching the text. It is far too easy to engage issues of abuse with denial and doubt, refusing to wrestle directly with the effects of sexual abuse and trauma in our own lives or the lives of those around us.

“We don’t want to fully face the level of extremity and harm that we have endured, or that is being suffered around us. […] We have thousands of ways to mitigate against human suffering, and this book is an invitation into suffering.”

When confronted with the pervasiveness of sexual abuse in our culture, many choose to become numb to what we see. If we do not believe that real healing and deep transformation are possible, then it is simply too painful to acknowledge the realities of trauma and abuse. This is true even of many Christians, who claim belief in the resurrection of Jesus but have not seen the evidence of resurrection in their own lives.

“There’s something about the nature of looking at life as a healing process in and of itself, that our body really has mechanisms within it that are meant to bring restoration, meant to bring healing. If it’s true in our body and the earth, why would we not presume—I mean deeply presume—that God intends to heal our marriages, our relationships with our children, and certainly our own history of past harm?”

Dan also addresses the fear that comes with the paradox of healing. Stepping into true healing and freedom means letting go of control, loosening our grip on the mechanisms we have used to survive. Freedom is a mystery, and we never know where healing will take us, says Dan. It is more of an art than a series of practical steps.

“The moment our hearts begin to feel any level of freedom and goodness, the kingdom of darkness is not going to relent in its dark, pernicious, violent commitment to do harm to the glory of God and anyone who bears anything of the mark of God’s glory. The moment your life begins to move, you will face the hatred of the kingdom of darkness, and often something of the envy of friends, family who do not wish your change to have any kind of influence on their lives.”

Dan’s invitation, for those planning to read Healing the Wounded Heart, is to approach the text with openness and honor, and to be willing to stop and ponder the sections that grab something in our hearts. Tune in next week to hear more about the book and about Dan’s desire to share what he has learned about healing, freedom, and restoration.