One of the things that has been breaking my heart lately is watching so many friends and beautiful people go through devastating loss, heartbreak, pain, confusion, betrayal, self-hatred and various struggles - and to offer no greater help than to say, "Go to God. He loves you more than you can ever grasp, and will heal every hurt and answer every question." Because I know that it is one of the hardest things in the world to decide to believe in the midst of all this that God will heal. God will comfort. That one day, we will get to the point where we are on the other side, and become grateful for the pain we went through. Yes, grateful.
Note: I say pain a lot in this post. What I am talking about is the heartwrenching, deepest ache, numbing, debilitating, lonely, hopeless, rock-bottom, can't move, can't function, have-no-one-to-go-to, can't breathe because your lungs are being crushed, utter desperation and despair type of pain. If you've been here, I am talking to you. I know pain.
We talk a lot about healing, about moving on. Growing up, 'getting over it.' By the time all of us go through about 20 years of life, let alone 30 or 40, we're like children that have been hit by trucks on the highway - broken bones, internal bleeding, psychological damage, permanent handicaps, lost limbs. We cannot help but talk about healing, and we operate through our injuries.
We learn to forgive the truck drivers, over and over and over. As we should. But healing? For this we must submit ourselves to the surgeon. We MUST put our bodies, minds and hearts under the lights on the operating table and say, "Fix me. Please, fix me. I cannot."
The last time I checked, surgery was never enjoyable. Stitches aren't fun. Having chunks of debris being picked out of your flesh is excruciating. Having bones re-set is pain upon pain.
But tell me this: Why do you not submit yourself to the one who can heal you?
I didn't, because I was terrified of learning to walk without my crutches. We grow to love what slows us down. I didn't, because I didn't trust a surgeon I couldn't see. I didn't, because it meant that I would have to lie still, and trust hands that I didn't understand. I didn't, because I thought I would get a cookie-cutter Christian treatment that didn't fit me and my unique pain. I didn't, because I thought I would die if I experienced more pain. I didn't, because I thought healing meant, "God will use this for good if you learn to live with this hurt." I didn't, because I didn't think God offered healing as the dictionary defines it: to make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; free from ailment.
I didn't, because I didn't want to be healed; without wounds. Because I wanted everyone to see what the truck had done to me. To remain injured and in pain meant that everyone would know - and when we are broken, we have a desperate need for others to know. To be validated in our pain. Because usually, those that hurt us are those we love, and consequently, those that hurt us are the ones that do not validate our pain - so we become living, walking messes of cognitive dissonance, silently begging for comfort from those who tell us that we either are not in pain or deserve to be in it. In my experience, I would accurately describe this as hell on earth.
I remember at a low point telling my friend Kelly, "I don't even want to be happy."
I have found that the greatest obstacle between us and God is pain.
Why? Because we are STILL like children in hospital. Crying, shaking, sobbing, and hiding...begging the nurse to not take us to the doctor, because he has needles, knives and scary looking tools. Operating rooms are terrifying.
An interesting thing about humans is that we never change from child into adult. It's not linear. We simply add to and expand ourselves, until one day the calendar says we are an adult. The core of us is still a child. In order to get ourselves to that operating table, we must either choose to believe (faith) the adult that tells us it is for our benefit, or be sedated and held down. Faith is being a child, and choosing to believe something that scares us because we do not know it.
Last night over dinner with Julie, we were talking about my family, and I explained how grateful I was for all the pain I'd been through. Why? Because I have learned to trust the surgeon. I have experienced some of the most difficult pain, and come out alive. I have a compassion and empathy and love for others in pain that will never leave, that has been anchored in the depths of my heart by pain. [ You know we rarely remember exactly what was said or done, but we always remember how it made us feel? Emotions carry a greater weight than specific words and actions. ] I am grateful for pain.
The greatest lesson I have learned through pain is the character of the surgeon.
I have learned that it is his nature to HEAL. His heart to LOVE. His way to COMFORT. His purpose to make us WHOLE.
The second greatest lesson I have learned through pain is to trust what He says over what I feel or know.
He WILL restore; nothing is beyond recovery or worthwhile purpose. He is not harsh, he is not rough, he is not a punishing or angry healer. He will never send you away because the pain is 'your fault.' The pain WILL lessen, and it lessens through patient, steady, often stupid-looking faith. It takes time, but we must hold out, and believe. It will come. It's a promise.
It is easier to trust a doctor with our bodies than with our hearts and minds, but I beg you to trust him.
But trust him wholly. His medicine, his procedures, his love, his way. We cannot half-ass healing, lest we end up worse than where we started. Always go back to him. When it starts to hurt, go to him. Again. And again. And again. When it doesn't make sense, go back to him. When you freak out again, go back to him. When the result doesn't look how you thought it would, go back to him. Always go back to him.
And there is no guilt or shame in asking him for painkillers along the way. But his painkillers, not ours.
I have glimpsed the other side, and it is good.
- - -
"This is what the Lord says:
Your wound is incurable; your injury beyond healing. There is no one to plead your case, no remedy for your wounds, no healing for you. All your allies have forgotten you; they care nothing for you. But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord. Because you are called an outcast for whom no one cares. I will restore life to you and have compassion on you, a city will be rebuilt on your ruins,and the palace will stand in it's proper place." Jeremiah 30
It was I who taught her to walk, taking her by the arms; but she did not realize it was I who healed her. I led her with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from her neck and bent down to feed her. - Hosea 11:3-4
I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten. - Joel 2:25
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. - Jeremiah 29:13