Do you walk around looking perfectly fine, but feeling deeply wounded?
Are you nursing spiritual, physical or emotional wounds that no one else can see?
In the midst of your grief and pain, have you ever felt guilty or overwhelmed by your doubts and questions about God’s goodness: Where is He? Why would He allow this suffering?
Fear or shame keeps you quiet. You live alone with your invisible wounds.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, God designed us for community. He isn’t afraid of our raw honesty, frustration and desperate questioning. He just wants us to come to Him.
When we seek the Healer instead of the healing, our painful journeys will lead us to freedom, joy and the unshakeable hope that heals. Hope that is not dependent on a result or an outcome. Hope that doesn’t disappoint.
Scroll down to read a book excerpt.
Melinda Means understands the isolation, grief and questioning that accompanies hidden hurts.
For 20 years, she has walked a long, lonely, difficult road of chronic pain and illness — both hers and her son’s. In Invisible Wounds, she transparently shares her struggle with the tough spiritual questions and raw, dark emotions that often accompany suffering.
Seven brave, beautiful women share their invisible wounds in these pages, too.
Revealing their pain for this book often brought them to tears. Yet, each one gladly went to some very dark, vulnerable places. They believed God wanted to use their heartache to relieve someone else’s.
Invisible Wounds: Hope While You’re Hurting is $2.99 on Kindle for a limited time. Paperback is also available for $8.99.
An excerpt from Invisible Wounds:
Like so many of us, my wounds are numerous. Some are too private to share with the world. Some involve other people. I can’t share those wounds publicly right now without wounding someone else. Genuine, lasting healing will never come by inflicting pain on another. One day the time might be right for me to share these hidden hurts, but not now. Most of the women sharing their stories in this book are using assumed names. They are doing so primarily for these reasons.
The wounds I believe God wants me to expose in this book stem from the trauma that began on what should have been one of the most joyful days of my life—the day my first child was born.
My labor and delivery had been an incredibly difficult ordeal. Within twenty-four hours, I felt extreme bladder pain and urgency. Although I tested negative for infection, the doctor prescribed antibiotics. By the end of the week, my antibiotics were gone, but my pain was not. I went to the doctor multiple times over the next few weeks. I was passed from doctor to doctor, but never received any solutions.
When I left the urologist’s care in search of answers elsewhere, I asked for my records. In his notes the doctor wrote, “Twenty-seven-year-old female comes to the office without appointment, complaining of active, ongoing bladder pain. However, nurse reports that she doesn’t appear in distress and seems to be enjoying her new baby.”
I didn’t look sick. I didn’t appear to be in pain. Day by day, I managed to hold it together for my baby and my husband.
For a time I quit going to doctors and turned to Google instead. After many desperate searches, I discovered my pain had a name: interstitial cystitis. It’s an inflammatory, autoimmune disease and it usually has “friends.” Over the years, I have developed migraines, joint and muscle pain, chronic fatigue, lower back pain, hypothyroidism, and anemia. In essence, my body is attacking itself. Although I’ve had periods of remission, the pain always comes back. Over the past seven years, my days without pain have been rare.
At the same time, I have a son who is waging his own invisible battle. He looks fine, yet he fights for every breath. Every day cystic fibrosis tries to steal it from him—along with his carefree childhood and his joy. Like mine, it’s a wound that won’t heal emotionally or physically. As his mother, I carry his wound, too. Seeing my child suffer has been, in some ways, a wound deeper than my own.
Years of disappointment, isolation and discouragement have scarred me. Because I never know how I’m going to feel, I struggle to make plans or fully engage in life. I feel the weight of my son’s pain. My anxiety and insecurity—always a struggle—has sometimes felt nearly unbearable. At times, it has shaken my faith to its very core.
The High Cost of Hidden Pain
Regardless of its source, our disappointment, pain, and disillusionment can cause us to question a good and loving God. We struggle to understand why He has left us in our pain. We become disillusioned when we consider that an all-powerful God refuses to grant us healing from our wounds.
I don’t think God is afraid of our desperate questioning. In Psalms, David pours out his heart and feelings of abandonment to God. His raw emotions and frustrations are a running theme throughout his writings. At times, in pure exhaustion and disappointment, my tear-soaked rants have simply given way to silence.
Questioning and silence both have their place at times. But we have to be careful not to stay in either place too long. That is when we lose perspective. We begin to believe the lies. We put up an emotional barrier in our relationship with God to protect ourselves from disappointment.
Isolation is one of Satan’s favorite and most effective weapons. We need people around us to give us perspective, and reassure us that God is listening and active in our situations, even when we can’t see or feel Him. Often, though, our tendency is to withdraw and suffer in silence.
When we’re alone in our pain, we can easily convince ourselves that we are the only one struggling like this. No one cares about our pain. Some of us live in shame, believing people would judge us or blame us for our problems. It leaves us incredibly vulnerable to discouragement, despair, and hopelessness. The lies we believe about God take root.
I understand. For years, I told virtually no one about my health struggles. I downplayed their impact on my life. Others have it so much worse, I would tell myself. Maybe I’m just weak and can’t hack it. Nobody wants to hear about my problems. I was ashamed. I thought no one would understand. I didn’t want it to define me.
But over the last year, through a series of painful events, God brought me to my knees. Out of desperation and necessity, I began to reach out. For the first time, I publicly told my story of pain and wrestling with God. The response was staggering. I literally felt like a huge burden was lifted from me, even though my circumstance had not changed. We were meant for community, friend. It is what will kick start your healing …
Every time I read Melinda Means, I feel like I’ve encountered the heart of Christ. In Invisible Wounds, she goes one step further. She shows me how Christ is holding my heart in his Hands, and how He holds me gently – every wound, every broken place – to bring wholeheartedness to my life. This book is for any woman who is hurting today, any woman who needs to know that hope is one heart-cry away.
It’s rare to find someone who will share her wounds with the kind of vulnerability Melinda does … Her voice is powerful yet tender. She will challenge you and encourage you at the same time. And chances are, you’ll laugh and cry…and maybe even find yourself nodding with a deep understanding as you read the hard-earned wisdom in these pages.
~ Carey Scott, author of Untangled: Let God Loosen the Knots of Insecurity in Your Life
Melinda shares her battle to find hope and hold onto her faith as she copes with the challenges of her personal debilitating disease, as well as the condition of her precious son. She allows you to see and feel her struggles and numbness all while being transparent about her doubts and questions about God. Her book will bring much-needed inspiration to others who have invisible wounds, too.
~ Amy Lykins, Executive Director of Business Development at Proverbs 31
Melinda understands so well this often-hopeless journey of hidden pain. To the woman who thinks no one sees—this book is for you. To the woman nursing hurts that don’t seem to heal—this book is for you. And, for every one of us (including me) who needs a God-sized reminder that only Jesus can help, this book is for us. Make sure you get two copies—someone you know needs hope while she’s hurting, too.
~ Joanne Kraft, author of The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids
In Invisible Wounds, Melinda gets real and encourages us to do the same. It’s through this realness that we can find grace from God and stronger relationships with others. Stories from Melinda’s life, her friends’ stories, and examples from Scripture all work together to help readers view their hardships as the training ground for growth. I’m excited to have this book to recommend to the special-needs parents that I minister to each day.
At some point in our lives, each of us has dealt with the fear, pain, doubts, and discouragement that Melinda writes about in this book. She describes beautifully how to address the lies the enemy places in our hearts. Melinda also helps us see that through our relationship with God and the promises we receive through knowing Him as our Lord and Savior, we can overcome these wounds. I am encouraged as I journey through her words and feel that through this book, Melinda will reach women as seeds of hope and love are planted—ones can only be found through Christ Jesus.
~ Cheryl Goss, Founder and President of Connecting Ministries
In Invisible Wounds, Melinda courageously opens the door to the inner struggles of a woman’s heart. She reminds us that God wants us to give him the depth of our pain so that He will show us His presence. With approachable wit and grace, Melinda’s words are a soft balm to our open wounds, providing healing and restoration to weary souls alike.
~ Christen Price, speaker, blogger at christenprice.com and author of Practice Hospitality and Invited (releases March 2017)
Melinda Means is a soul in need of constant refreshment from the only Source who can quench our thirst. After years of chronic pain and bouts of questioning the love and goodness of a Savior who would allow it, she has quit trying to figure out “why” and has learned to choose hope, freedom and Truth — moment by moment — despite her circumstances and emotions.
Melinda loves to speak and write for hurting women. She is also Women’s Director at her church and co-author of Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family (Bethany House, 2015).
Her coaching business Revealed Coaching for Writers helps women bloggers, writers and speakers discover and passionately communicate their God-given messages and stories — the stories only they can tell. Her website is melindameans.com. She and her husband Mike have two children, teenage son Micah and a college-age daughter Molly.