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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Healing

Thank you to those who have sent in questions. I'm very excited to have the opportunity to deal with these together and see what God has to teach us as we handle each one. Please feel free to keep sending them. Also, please know that I don't have all the answers. I'll gladly share my thoughts with you, but you are welcome to disagree. I simply speak from the wisdom of my own personal experience. More important, I try to speak from the best source of wisdom I know. (no, it's not Lisa, though she's a pretty smart cookie). It's the Bible.

The first question comes from one of my newer friends. This is a woman who has experienced a great deal of pain and loss of her own variety (haven't we all at some point?). Her question for me was simply this: how did you know when the healing process began considering there were several tragedies in such a short amount of time?

Let me start by filling in some blanks for those less familiar. Most of you know that my wife died in the car accident on April 9, 2004 and my son died on April 14, five days later. What many aren't aware of is that Sarah Ellen and I lost a niece to a perforated appendix in November of the year before and my dad passed away in early February--just two months before the accident. In less than six months I lost four people who I loved deeply. Now, to the question.

I honestly am not sure that there was one point where I realized the healing began. But I woke up one day, just a few months after the accident and said to myself, "I'm going to make it. I'm not there yet...but I will."

I have a theory as I look back over those days (keep in mind that its just a theory based on my experience. Your theories may be different). Healing, just like with our physical bodies, begins naturally as we seek to put life back together after a tragedy. When I cut my hand or scrape a knee, my physical body starts right away to attempt to heal itself. I think the spirit and mind seek to do the same thing. The problem is not in making the healing begin, it is in allowing it to continue and run it's course.

Let's take my example of the scraped knee. You fall and scrape it badly. Instantly, the human body reacts and begins to heal. But the healing must be helped along and not hindered. You can't pick at the scabs all of the time or continue to scrape the injury on the carpet of your house if you expect it to heal. In fact, the best healing is done when we don't focus on the wound but what the rest of the body is up to.

Tragedy tore at my heart that April. I could have sat and focused on the "wound" for the rest of my life. In fact, I did for several days. But experience, the demands of life and friends would not allow me to continue to focus on the injury. Instead, they turned my heart back to the rest of my life that was still yet to be lived. There were kids to raise, a church to lead, family who needed my attention and the promise I had made to bring good from the loss. All of those things kept me from "picking at the scab" and allowing my heart to heal. That doesn't mean that I never paid attention to it. There were days that I had to. The pain was too great to ignore. But I didn't linger over the pain nor let my focus dwell there. I got back to what God had next for me.

Now, whether you believe what I just wrote or not, this much I know is true. Grief is unique to every person. Healing is as well. And whether or not healing happens for you after your time of trial depends largely on you. Don't believe for a second that God is not capable of healing you nor that He doesn't have a desire to. The Bible mentions frequently this passion He has to do that very thing for you. You have to desire it for yourself.

Allow yourself to heal. Surround yourself with those who seek it for you. Don't let the past keep you from the present and, just as important, the amazing future that God has for you. Focus on what He is up to and, before long, you will find the wound is healed. You will not be without scars--after all, every skinned knee bears its reminders--but you will be able to embrace God's plan without fear of what might happen next.

He heals the heartbroken
and bandages their wounds.

He counts the stars
and assigns each a name.
Our Lord is great, with limitless strength;
we'll never comprehend what he knows and does.
God puts the fallen on their feet again
and pushes the wicked into the ditch. Psalm 147:3-6 The Message

1 comment:

Beth Clark said...

Every entry of yours that I read just makes me stop and reflect on how I choose to deal with trials and struggles that come our way. I want to thank you for sharing this journey because, though I haven't experienced death and loss as you have, I have been in a season of mourning a life that was filled with great comfort, joy, familiarity and happiness. Being in a foreign land has done a number on my thoughts and attitude and I haven't fully known how best to deal with it. Today, as I read your wisdom I'm just so thankful for you, your heart and willingness to share. I hate that I gain from your losses, but I also rejoice in the truth that you live out Jeremiah 29:11 AND the good that will come from tragedy! We love you and are so thankful for you. Thanks for helping me continue to shift perspective!