Let Your Faith Guide Your Healing
Just for a moment I will sit here and feel this sadness, thinking about the pain people feel… the suffering that is felt when we fall short and violate our own values, trespass on the values and over the boundaries of others; especially those we love.
I still feel the devastation when I sit with a couple in this situation, and see, hear and feel their pain. Sitting over here, in the middle, I’m able to realize more clearly, the depths of their pain, the equality of it. Before, I only sat in “her” pain and I could only feel that devastation. Now, in this middle seat, I can also sit in “his” pain and while it’s no surprise, it’s astonishing, nonetheless, that his devastation runs at least as deep as hers, and yet for entirely different reasons. Sometimes I wonder if it runs deeper but then it hits me that pain is pain and suffering is suffering and measurement isn’t possible much less helpful.
The married man who acts out sexually, despite his love for his wife and family, despite his value system that says, “I’m a good guy and good guys are honest, moral, ethical and trustworthy”, who repeatedly acts outside of his value system, is tormented much the same way as his spouse who is wrecked with loneliness, isolation, suspicion, profound betrayal and fear of abandonment and rejection.
I suppose there are many ways people go about addressing these relationship crises. I’ll avoid going into detail about why, but as a believer in Christ, I typically keep my language neutral, meaning, I don’t often quote scripture or reference it when I’m working with people, but my input is cloaked in my faith and it is guided by my view of Christian doctrine and my belief that there is no greater love, wisdom, peace, grace or mercy than that we are given through our faith in Christ. It’s true. Sometimes I pray as I walk or run or ride my bike. Sometimes I pray while showering. Sometimes I pray in the car as I’m driving. Always I pray as I lay down in my bed. Then there are times when I’m mindful that I’m stepping into a situation that is way over my head and I deliberately get down on my knees, face down on my well worn office floor, and I pray, like I did this morning. Something like, “Father, you are the source of power, wisdom, light and love. I love you. I am yours and I ask that you use me as an instrument of your healing touch and love, Please guide my heart, my thoughts, my intuition, decision making and make my words yours… This family needs healing, health, forgiveness, peace and joy and I ask that you use me and others on their path to bring them the vision, openness, safety and help that will give them the freedom and fullness that until now, they’ve never even imagined. Make this space we sit in today the safest, most sacred, healing space they’ve ever experienced. Thank you for trusting me in this way. In Jesus name, Amen”
75 minutes after opening my door and sitting with this couple, witnessing tears and deeply felt heartache and suffering, I watched them walk away in a space that I’m no stranger to; In each of them I could sense the little flicker of light, knowing individually they will each be okay, even well, yet not knowing precisely how or even where that place will be on the map of their life’s journey.
Sometimes I want to share more broadly – important things because I have this passionate part that believes that in our sharing more lives can be helped and pain can be lessened. Whatever your belief system, most of us have a well formed value system or code of conduct that guides us as we live. Most of us agree that lying, stealing, cheating and abusing others is fundamentally wrong and we live our lives to do no such harm. From there we may have a variety of reasons for taking that up a notch or slacking and giving ourselves permission to lower our standards under certain circumstances. You’ve noticed that too, right?
It might be an unpopular time to be a believer in Christ these days or maybe social media has just made me more aware of atheists and agnostics that seem to be growing in number? It doesn’t really matter to me because I’m clear on the fact that I only have my answers and I have no desire or illusion that I can be God, persuading others to believe what I believe. In fact, I think the best I can do is live. Just live. Be me… the work in progress that I am who first and foremost, loves God and believes my best is always when I’m walking in God’s will. Therefore, I don’t need to promote anything or convince anyone. If I’m trustworthy, seem to have a light someone else reaches for, I’m clear that that’s God in me and I can answer questions or respond when that light attracts someone. That’s really it. It’s that simple, for me.
As a young Christian, many years ago, I used to wonder how so many believers – even very religious Biblical experts or church leaders, get into so much trouble. I mean, adultery, addictions, theft… I’d figuratively scratch my head, wondering how that’s possible… thinking about the “little things” that could keep me up all night, beating myself up with a mistake or a careless thing I said to so and so… I used to think all we needed was bigger faith, more understanding of the awesomeness that comes from living a clean-conscience, Christian life – knowing enough scripture to see how loved we are, how empowered we are, the miraculous freedom that comes from being fully known and completely loved and forgiven by God, our Creator… So much magic in all the thoughts and emotions that emanate from that center point.
I can’t even put it all into words. From the outside looking in, I always had some level of uneasiness or fear of the unknown, and then my view of what looked weird from outside looking in. I thought leaning into God, learning more, giving my heart and mind to the idea of coming to understand, would take away some of my joy and rob me of some of my freedom. So, I moved slowly as I made the decision to learn more. Funny thing is, I discovered that being outside growing faith and a life committed to walking with Christ and staying consciously connected to God as I live each day, was what was shrinking my joy and taking my freedom. I had it backwards. Yes, I gave up things. I gave up things that never made me feel better to begin with and I gained things. Things like real, deep, trustworthy friendship. Inspiration. Real freedom that came from knowing that I searched my heart for any and everything about me for which I felt guilty, ashamed or embarrassed about and I confessed each to God and a trusted friend. The outcome was that I was released of all that guilt, shame, inadequacy and fear and I felt loved, clean and free like never before. When you experience that, you protect it. You will always hold onto what brought you there. Life’s ups and downs continue as always, but that “peace that transcends all understanding” – that is a constant.
There is a dividing line on the timeline of my life. December 21, 1967-December 13, 1994 (before Jesus was Lord of my life) and December 13, 1994-present… until the day I die, with Jesus, my Lord and savior beside me, over me, in me and through me. I handle my mistakes differently. I handle your mistakes differently. I see us differently and I love differently. 23 years later and it’s still fresh and new, this new life. I remember coming up out of the waters of baptism that night and saying, “I feel like a newborn baby… pure and innocent, like my slate is clean and clear and my life is fresh”. I had no idea that night that I would find new ways to fall short and still stink it up more often than I wish, but peace, joy, freedom and certainty remain.
That’s a long build up to what I had in mind to share when I began writing this. When I meet with Christians, sometimes I encounter mild resistance to anything other than the preconceived concepts that all the answers, support and resources needed to be healthy, whole and free, are contained in one little box marked “Bible”, encased inside a slightly bigger box marked “church resources”. It’s interesting that when we tear a tendon, break an arm, collapse from shortness of breath or any other physical malady, we don’t hesitate to rush to the doctor or hospital for help. We trust that we bring our faith with us. We trust God is working through the physicians and nurses as he works in us. The question is, why approach emotional maladies with less faith? I had a guy with a history of addiction that had ruined his marriage tell me that he heard from a guy at church that he shouldn’t take my encouragement to go to a 12-step group because, “don’t they call God a higher power or something like that?” I answered gently but will admit that I felt exasperated because I know that many people who could benefit from the tools, support and knowledge that comes with 12-step work, are kept away because of misinformation – well intentioned or not – from the flaws of people in the church. The fact is, God is huge and tools, support, resources, knowledge and love are sprinkled all over this world. Be courageous! Be fearless when an expert prescribes treatment, explore it with the same faith you have when you drive through the Walgreens pharmacy for that needed medicine. Faith – deep faith – leads us to see, hear and apply these tools, from wherever they show up in our lives. When faith is strong, we are fearless and this gives us the strength and courage to lean in where doubt would have us turn away. It’s ironic when you consider the obvious wrong doors that are walked through without hesitation… think about that for a minute…
It’s true, this life is short and whether you believe it’s a stepping stone to an eternity of nothing but peace, prosperity, joy and good or a final resting place, I encourage you to live it to the full! The question is, have you discovered what that is? I’m just an ordinary person but I can tell you from both experience and from witnessing, that joy, freedom, and deep peace are some of the fruits of living fully and they don’t come from over indulging in stuff that harms your body, your spiritual/emotional state or your mind. They don’t come from any part of deception, whether that’s overtly cheating on your spouse or flirting with that line in some form of fashion. They don’t come from perverting sex or love or being quick tempered or seeing yourself as superior or right above others, nor from any other violation of your healthy value system.
If you have too many moments that you spend agonizing over some unsettled part of your past, your family, your marriage or within yourself, look for help in the people and situations that show up around you. When you feel a nudge, lean toward it and see if there’s something helpful on the other side. The sadness I was sitting with as I began this post has naturally shifted to a quiet joy that comes from knowing this pathway to hope, healing and transformation is there for us all.