What is natural, though, can be hampered by our own meddlesome yet opposite actions — rushing the healing process or retarding it. Some wounds resemble little cuts. They are clean with sharp edges; they are fixed with a bandage, a few sutures, and perhaps a hug and a sympathetic word. With minimal care, the wound heals.
Other wounds are quite different. They are wider and deeper, with jagged edges and debris. No sutures could tie them together and make them tight. This kind of wound has to heal by a process called “granulation.” It is a slow process, the healing happens from the inside out. The small pieces of debris must be removed. Sterile solutions wash away grit and dirt foreign to the healing process. Care must be taken to protect the raw, open tissue from further injury. Slowly, the wound heals, becoming smaller and more shallow. Many processes are at work at once. The new skin is pink and fresh. As the evidence of the old wound passes away, behold, there is a “new creation.”
Sometimes people want to save time or desire a quick fix. They use sutures to bring the offense together tightly, to make the edges fit together. They pull harder. All too often, though, these wounds buckle. When a wound is prematurely closed, the edges never come together appropriately. The wound festers within, even though it appears to be well. Eventually cells die from infection, lack of oxygen, poor circulation, or isolation. There is no community. The cells do not come together to heal. Then everything starts to erode, and sometimes the disease goes deeper into a bone or blood. There is widespread distortion because healing was forced or coerced, not given time to do its proper work.
At other times people heal too slowly. Paul Brand mentions the “compensation syndrome,” in which people who might gain from a disability tend to heal at a slower rate. In a comparison of similar injuries that take place in different settings, Brand notes a measurable difference in healing rates. If there is a pay off, the same injury can take longer to heal.
Healthy congregations will neither anxiously hurry nor slow down the healing process. Because it is a natural force, healing knows its own fitting time. Healthy congregations let their strengths and resources carry them through their woundedness.
Healthy Congregations, Peter L. Steinke, page 33-35