Letters from the Fire12
ďObservations of a Healing GodĒ
I believe personally that it is Godís intent for you not just to be healed to the point that you are functioning and coping but to the point that your are ďthriving.Ē Consider this an attempt to fill in the gaps left by Letters from the Fire11.
Before I do start however, let me preface what I am about to say by briefly talking about the ďculture of healingĒ in the United States. What I mean by this is that psychology is embedded in our language and in our beliefs about healing. While many facets of psychology are helpful and effective, as Christians we need to be wary and view psychology through the lens of the Christian worldview. The problem with man is sin, not mental illness, or unhappiness, or depression. The cure is Jesus Christ. This is the bottom line. Many of the symptoms that people struggle with are signs of their need for God. Some of my concern lies in certain themes that run through the mental health industry, those that run contrary to what the bible teaches. Victimization for example, has been edified to such a point that some have dared to blame God for making them genetically vulnerable to commit crimes. Victimization tends to foster blame and excuses for not changing or moving forward. And where does forgiveness, volition, and responsibility come in anyway? All this to say that while psychology can be very helpful, be mindful that at itís heart psychology is manís attempt to diagnose himself when he is sick with sin. As such there will be inherent problems and issues that will be contrary to God and his healing ways. Yes God can work within the mental health framework. But if allowed to heal his way, the results are beyond anything psychology could ever come close to accomplishing. No, you wonít always be scarred. No, you wonít always be an alcoholic. No, No, No! What follows are some of my observations of how God heals.
1. God's grace. I have noticed in my own life and oftentimes in the traumatized lives of others, that there is always extra grace that God offers. This is the starting point. When we accept his help this grace works to protect us from bitterness. Perhaps the extra grace he offers is a way of evening out the playing field. Refusing his grace is dangerous because it sets us on a trajectory that closes our hearts and generally blinds us to God.
2. You need to ask the tough questions and wait for the answers. Trauma makes you feel alone. After all, where was God when all these things were happening to me? Was he distant? Why didnít he do anything to help me? Why did this happen to me? It is difficult to shift to trusting spiritual truths (that God was there, that he never left you) when all you feel is a great expanse of internal emptiness that just seems insurmountable. In truth, these two things cannot co-exist. Part of the healing process is to courageously face your relational impasses with God. He will respond to your questions. It may take time. Nevertheless, if you wait on him he will answer you in an intimate personal way that fills the holes in your heart, and is infinitely more powerful than changing your negative cognitions and believing that ďitís not your fault.Ē
3. Don't wait. Please donít make the mistake of waiting to be fully healed before you move on with your life. I have found time and time again, that even though I am hurting myself when I reach out to help others, I get healed in the process. When you seek first the kingdom, healing just seems to happen spontaneously. As Christians, we must be about our Fatherís business.
4. Healing worship. I cannot tell you how many times during times of worship, God has brought back memories that I had forgotten, or touched my broken heart with his healing hand. For me it has been people like Bob Fitts, Brian Doerksen, and Matthew West, who have managed to find the words and the language to describe my struggles and bring me closer to God. As difficult as it has been for me on this journey, Iíd have to confess that the pain and sorrow made me desperate for God in a way that nothing else could. Up until that point I was more of a lax Christian who only came to God when I had a problem. Trauma forced me to realize that there was no one else who could help me or satisfy me. I would literally worship in a closet in the dark, waiting for God to show up. I refused to leave until that point. If I didnít feel like he showed up I became more desperate. I guess you could say I was like an addict that needed a fix. Thatís how desperate I was. Thatís how I became a worshipper.
5. ďThatís not me, this is Me.Ē When I would get in an argument with my ex-husband, I would often drive away somewhere to be alone and cry. God would speak to me and he had this way of sorting out my projections of my ex-husband onto him. He would tell me ďthatís not me, this is Me.Ē Being able to know the difference kept me from distancing myself from God. Recently, as I have been working with issues related to my controlling father, I have come to realize that he (my father) had eclipsed my view of God so completely, that it wasnít until I began talking about how he treated me that I could finally see God for who he was. At long last, God was able to speak to me as he was without having to speak through the image of my father superimposed over him.
6. God's healing is tailored to each particular person. It has been my experience that God is very individualized in how he heals people. He doesnít seem to follow any treatment plan, although he will work with one if he has to. For this reason, I believe it is better to track with what he is doing instead of coming up with how you want him to heal you, and/or how long you want him to take. Of course this entails dying to yourself and obeying what he asks you to do. Sometimes it means following him but not knowing where you will end up. Just remember, God is committed to your complete healing and he is especially relentless in this area.
7. Trauma isn't all bad. Believe it or not there are some benefits to trauma. Sometimes if it happens early enough, your childlike faith remains intact. Trauma often causes accelerated maturity and increased compassion for others. I have seen this many times over. Ironically, pride isnít as difficult a problem for those who have endured so much.
Wherever you are in your journey of healing, I hope you find this helpful. You are courageous simply for stepping onto this road. May these words prove to be helpful markers and guide posts that keep you on the right track following the Healer.