Possibly one of the greatest challenges in the healing process, I’ve found, is that it sometimes occurs much more slowly and takes a lot longer than we would wish. Often, once on the road back to health we can wonder – why can’t I just be all well again now?
The past couple weeks, as mentioned in last week’s post, I’ve been experiencing that challenge just a little.
On the up side, I feel like I’m managing the stresses of my life more effectively most of the time. I’m gaining better control of my thoughts and emotions, through my mindfulness practice and other strategies. I’m feeling less overwhelmed less often, meaning sometimes I’m having strings of days where I cope well and feel close to being ‘back to normal’.
On the other hand, that sometimes makes it harder to accept the times when I’m not really coping and when I have to concede that I’m not there yet.
As a Christian, it can be challenging to have anxiety. After all, In Philippians 4:6 we’re encouraged,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God.
I know God can heal, even in these modern times. I was reminded of that just a few months ago.
I was at work when I got a call from my wife at the end of the day. She had been picking the kids up from school when her back gave out. She was in severe pain and couldn’t move. She needed me to come get her and the boys, because there was no way she could drive.
When I got there I knew it was bad. Even the tiniest movement was excruciating for her. Luckily, it was a short trip home and she struggled into bed amid tears of agony. Even lying still, she was in terrible pain and we both knew what to expect. We’d been down this road many times before.
We knew the signs. She would be virtually bed-ridden, unable to move much, always in pain for up to 12 weeks. We knew this from numerous experiences of it before and I had no doubt that that was what we were facing here.
That night as my wife lay in pain and as I put the boys to bed alone, I prayed with them – that God would lay his loving hands on their mum and heal her. It was truly miraculous that she was up and hobbling gingerly about just a few hours later! Unheard of in our experience.
This was at a time where my anxiety was at its peak, and I’m not sure how I would have coped if things had run their usual course this time. I can’t help thinking that God was ensuring that my wife would be well enough to provide the amazing support to me that she has over the past months.
So if God can heal, why doesn’t he just make me all better now?
In fact we’re all somewhat flawed and have shortcomings of one sort or another. Why doesn’t he just click his fingers and make us all perfect people right now – today?
Here’s some of what I think, at least in relation to my own context.
#1 – It wouldn’t stick.
I know God could just heal me. Wham! Perfect human being. But how long would I stay that way? To me, its a bit like solving a Rubik’s Cube where all the coloured squares are mixed up. I could peel off the dots and put them back on in the right places, but I wouldn’t have learnt what strategies to use to actually solve the puzzle without cheating next time.I think God’s more interested in helping me grow through my challenges so that – hopefully – I can stay well for the long haul and not end up back where I started.
I think sometimes our lives resemble a mixed up, tangled web of threads. I need to learn how to untangle those threads and keep them untangled, and to learn how to do that I have to persevere with the knots.
#2 – With me, not for me.
I also think he wants to work with me on getting better. He wants me to be actively involved and consciously part of the process. What I’ve learnt about God is that what he craves from me most is relationship. I know that feeling well because it’s the same way I feel about my own kids.
What do I want most and enjoy most with them? Doing things together, including solving problems and completing projects. Sometimes as a dad, it’s tempting to jump in and just do things for my kids but we all get a lot more out of it if we’re working together – the end product is better, and our relationship becomes closer and stronger in the process. Not to mention, if I do things for my kids all the time then they’ll never learn how to do things for themselves.
God wants to see growth in us as human beings and also growth in our relationship with him.
#3 – I still need to learn to ‘let go, and let God’ more completely.
Most recently I’m learning that I still need to let go of control over my life and my healing process, and give that control to God. Over the past weeks I have had this frequent refrain in my mind, asking “Where is God in this?” And I don’t think it’s been a question about his presence in the midst of my journey, because that’s a given.
But am I allowing him his proper place in this process? I’m including him, but I think I’m still holding control over the process a lot. I still need to let go. I keep coming back to this post I read on the blog Beauty Beyond Bones a while ago, because it speaks to this point so eloquently.
The irony of God in this situation is that he could step in and take over if he chose, because he has that power. He wants sovereignty over all of our lives, including the messy parts. But he won’t take it by force.
He’s again like a parent with a child, asking “Do you want some help with that?” Look more to the Beauty Beyond Bones post link above for a wonderful extension on this idea.
God will heal me, in his own good time and in a way that will be much more lasting and profound than the quick-fix we often look for. in this process he’s teaching me stillness, he’s teaching me balance, he’s teaching me patience.
He’s teaching me to look to him for guidance more and to let him take the lead. That’s something that’s really counter-cultural and hard to do, but I’m slowly learning, learning, learning.
And when I do look to him to lead, those are the easiest days on this journey.