Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Rocky Road of Restoration

Last night I read an article by an autistic gentleman who underwent experimental surgery in order to restore his emotions. His story absolutely fascinated me. To begin with, I had no idea any such surgery or treatment existed, even if it is only experimental. More importantly, however, there is now someone else in the world with whom I can relate regarding the strange difficulty of emotional healing taking place rather late in life. 

Like me, he found that having a new understanding of others' emotions and subtle intentions brought unexpected pain and a sense of being overwhelmed. It was one thing to be vaguely aware, if at all, of people who made fun of me. It is now another to be fully aware, and then to look back and be able to see how that same scenario occurred hundreds of times before in my life. 

Basically, healing on this level is bittersweet. Before it can be enjoyed completely, grieving is a necessity. I was so surprised to learn how angry and disappointed I felt. Then I realized I needed to undertake the overwhelming task of forgiving just about everyone I had ever encountered. When you are shut out of life, you are shut out everywhere. It's the hardest thing in the world to admit, but I wanted to be free of anger and bitterness, so I did--admit it. As a result, joy is surfacing in my life as well as a deep gratitude to God for my healing. 

Somehow this man's story reminds me of another I read when I was just 12 years old. Titled Flowers for Algernon, it was written by Daniel Keyes in 1959. The main character, Charlie, undergoes surgery to "make [him] smart." His intelligence is restored and soars, but a lab mouse (Algernon) who underwent the same surgery, and who experienced the same cognitive surge, ends up deteriorating and then dying. 

I remember feeling very sobered by that story, yet not so much because of the death of the mouse and all that it implied. Rather as Charlie healed, it was his awareness of how others perceived him before his surgery that pained me. Like I said, there's just something very difficult in that moment when the ways you've been perceived by others for your entire life becomes more than crystal clear.  

By the mentioning of this story, it might sound like I'm coming down on healing today. I'm not. I don't expect anyone to deteriorate and die as a result of their prayers and interventions!!! Never give up your faith! 

Instead I think this is more of a realization that restoration is not really that easy. We rightly perceive that our lives will change when healing occurs. We wrongly overlook the fact that there is a process involved in the healing because it includes a period of transition. Additionally, there is confusion in a sudden gear shift while traveling 100 mph down the highway of life, especially when this happens at the age of 40 or 50. Unexpected losses happen and must be grieved. Relationships change.

Even so, is healing worth it? And specifically was this healing worth it? Yes. Emotions are beautiful and created by God. He has them, too, you know. And all that He made for us, I want to have. I want to live in the fullness of my life no matter how overwhelmed it makes me at times. All that God made He called good. That includes tears, anger, pain, and so forth. It takes some getting used to, but for me to want to go back from where I started on this journey? No way. Not a chance.

I am grateful to God for all that He has done, and although I think brain surgery shows great promise for emotional restoration in people with all kinds of cognitive issues, I am especially grateful that my healing was done without surgery. Thank you, Lord! 

Blessings...and keep praying for your own healing. Take courage and do not be afraid! 

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