Sunday, August 9, 2015

Healing vs. Perfectionism

People, once they are healed, will have emotional wounds to deal with eventually. 

It's just a given. Disability of any kind usually leads to rejection and social isolation. Being an outcast hurts, and the only way to cope is to either literally withdraw from the world, or withdraw by creating a false persona. Most people subconsciously opt to do the latter because total isolation is simply too painful. 

To ease the pain, a quest for perfectionism begins, and--it's just a thought--but this quest alone may initially bring people to healing ministries. Why? Because if you are healed, you are whole, and if you are whole, you are acceptable. You are acceptable because you are, in the sense that you now look and act like others around you, perfect. 

Maybe that's how you think it should go. Maybe you think that's how it would go, just doesn't. And when that realization hits, you have to go somewhere to deal with the pain of still not being perfect even though you may look that way on the outside.

So, then, if there is no way to ever truly be whole, should a person pray to Jesus for healing or accept their brokenness and just play the hand life gave them? 

This is an easy question to answer.

We should always pray for healing because, in a nutshell, healing is real. It does alleviate a great deal of pain, and it is a gift that God gives us, and "gives" is the operative word here. We are recipients of grace and mercy. The healing is not earned. We receive it because we are loved by our Father and Creator. 

Perfectionism on the other hand, is striving. We receive nothing. Instead, we try with effort and might to take something from the world around us. I say "try" because the attempt to extract love, acceptance, and approval from others and from God will always be futile. We will always fail. And the result of that failure is, we will never be real...

Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. This is the man I want myself to be but who cannot exist because God does not know anything about him. And to be unknown to God is altogether too much privacy. My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of God's will and God's love--outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion. We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish about ourselves--the ones we are born with and which feed the roots of sin. For most people in the world there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist. A life devoted to this cult of shadow is what is called a life of sin. ~Thomas Merton

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Beloved Enemies

On the (almost) eve of my 44th birthday, I cannot help but sit and marvel over what God has done in my life, particularly over the last eight years.

Up until that time, it was as if I was invisible. At times I didn't even feel human. I drifted from day to day with no thoughts of a future and often wondered how my heart continued to beat through the night. I had no conscious will to live, but something in me kept hanging on. At times, I truly resented that part of myself.

But one day, I happened to attend a conference featuring Judith MacNutt. While listening to her speak, a myriad of dormant feelings began to awaken in me. I didn't leave that conference healed, but I did leave with new signs of life stirring around in my heart. And I didn't want to die anymore.

My journey to healing officially began then, and I endeavored to work intensely to recover. Interestingly enough, it was during this same period of time that I had accrued almost overnight, and for the first time ever, enemies. And not just one. They appeared everywhere. Especially at church.

Now, when I talk to people about having enemies, their eyes grow wide with fear. They think I'm about to engage in a long saga about some kind of victimization, and naturally (and to their credit), they don't want to hear the story...but read on because this is not that kind of story.

No. I am here to say that the most joyful revelation I have had, and it came only recently, is that all of those enemies that came out of the woodwork eight years ago, have been the biggest and most tremendous blessings I could ever experience.

My enemies taught me how to forgive. How to love. How to persevere. How to bless. How to wait. How to praise. How to give. How to cry. How to pray. How to rejoice in suffering. How to obey. You brought meaning, focus, and purpose to an empty wasteland of a life. I am alive because of you. Thriving because of you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have given to me more than anybody else ever could. Truly, I say to you, may the Lord bless you and keep you and to make his face shine upon you. You are beloved.

Enemies are nothing to fear. In fact, their sudden appearance generally signals to you that God, too, has just shown up in your life. And where He is, victory, growth, change, and healing are never far behind! Thank You, God, for the gift of a restored life.

On the contrary, "If your enemy is hungry feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." ~Romans 19:20

More will love them.