I Want to Be Healed

Heal the world !!!

(Photo credit: bluewinx15)

“It’s disgusting how many people Jesus healed,” I told my friend Joel over pizza one night. “I’ve been reading Mark – he healed everyone!”

I was good and bitter, thinking of my loved ones who struggle with chronic depression and autoimmune diseases and high blood pressure. And while I was at it, what about the division and lack of love and corruption infecting my beloved Church? And what about my own pride and anger and insensitivity and all the stupid sins I faced down day after day? I was tired of the seeming relentlessness of it all, of watching nothing change within or without, then reading how Jesus sent lifelong afflictions away with a single touch and a blessing.

“Not everyone,” corrected Joel firmly, taking another bite of pizza.

I kept reading the Gospels and I saw he was right. They are thick with lepers and fever sufferers and the demon-possessed. You get the idea there are many more where they came from, and Jesus spends significant time running away from them. After most of his miracles in Mark, Jesus instructs the newly healed not to tell anyone (instructions they usually blatantly disregard, and who can blame them).

Why would Jesus tell them not to tell anyone? Not because he doesn’t want to heal people or because he doesn’t love them. Jesus is often described as looking at someone and having compassion on them – and the Greek verb in that sentence literally means he experienced gut-wrenching pain on their behalf. He loves these people so much it hurts – viscerally.

But even he cannot do it all. Jesus is not “only human,” as the saying goes, but he is fully human. He gets hungry, dirty, exhausted – in that famous part when he calms the storm, he had to be awoken from sleeping through its fury, conked out on a rough mat on the floor of the boat. He is constantly being chased by crowds of people, and once someone lets his secret out in an area, he can’t even appear in public anymore. He often withdraws to a quiet place to pray, apparently needing to be restored.

So who gets healed in the Bible? The ones who push their way to the front of that crowd to touch Jesus, scream his name until he stops his journey, endure jeers and mocking and discouragement from bystanders, sneak up behind him to brush their fingers upon the hem of his garment, get their friends to lower them down from a hole in the thatched roof. Subtle, they are generally not. Orthodox, even less so. They are desperate and unafraid to admit it. You ask them what they want and they’ll tell you right away: they want to be healed.

When I say realizing this taught me something about healing, what I don’t mean at all is that my friends with depression or high blood pressure or lupus are sick because they don’t want to be well badly enough. Neither do I want to say that God is harried and overworked, that you have to take a number and wait for him to get to you. I don’t understand why sickness happens, why healing happens or doesn’t happen. God knows why every sparrow falls to the ground, but I will never pretend to be in the know on that level.

But I do know this: if I want to get healed from my own stuff, and I’m talking soul rot, spiritual leprosy, bits of my heart falling off from under-use, I need to get serious about it. My pride needs to be the first thing to go. I need to shout with all my heart, “Jesus, have mercy on me!” I need to be ready to crawl on my belly in the dust to touch the hem of his robe. I need to let friends carry me and devise crazy schemes on my behalf. I need to become deaf to those who would mock me or scorn me for admitting my weakness. I need to focus on just one thing: following that crowd of crazy people and hunting Jesus down.

I also need to smash forever the other big lie I tell myself: that working on my own spiritual healing equals being selfish. Often I feel squishily concerned about other people’s suffering, but I’m too buried in my own garbage to truly help them. As a wise man once said, “Why don’t you take the stick out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to help that other person who’s got something in their eye.” Like, “I can’t believe I have to tell you this, but you can’t see with a giant stick in your eye. Common sense, people, sheesh.”

What this means for me right now: I’m starting to actively look for a therapist and/or spiritual director to help me with some deep-rooted, unhealthy ways of dealing with physical and emotional pain (or not dealing with it, as the case may be). I’ve been very resistant to this in the past for various reasons, but what I lose in pride I’ll hopefully more than make up in authenticity. I’m also committing to confiding in my friends more when I need it and praying aggressively for growth and healing. I’d appreciate your prayers and/or good wishes on this journey.

I raise a big cosmic toast to humbling ourselves in the pursuit of healing. May we all, one day, be whole.

What are your thoughts on healing? Any requests for prayer and/or practical help?

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10 thoughts on “I Want to Be Healed

  1. When I was reading through the Gospels in The Message, what struck me was the contrast between Jesus’ focus on teaching and the people’s focus on healing. Jesus spent a lot of time preaching and teaching about the kingdom of heaven and how people should live their lives, and yet people kept crowding him and asking for healing here and now. You can almost feel Jesus’ frustration — I’m trying to tell you about the mysteries of God and the universe and all you can think about is your own pain! — and yet he does have compassion and does care deeply about people, and so when it’s pressing enough he will stop his teaching to heal someone, yet he tries to keep the word from spreading because he knows he could just spend his entire time on earth healing people and they’d all eventually die anyway and never have learned any of the truths he needed to share.

    When I saw the Gospels this way, I realized how much the Gospel writers seemed to have been caught up in this same focus on the here and now and the flashy miracles over the deep but challenging truths. How much of Jesus’ teaching are we missing because the Gospel writers decided to just say “He taught for hours” and then talk about the loaves and fishes miracle?

    • Jessica, your comment made me realize that there’s a lot I left unsaid in this post about my take on the significance of healing in the Gospels. As I think about the relationship between Jesus’s miracles/healings and his teachings, I realize I could easily do at least one post about that alone. So thanks for the food for thought, and thanks as always for reading!

  2. Yes! I really want to care for others, but I feel that God is calling me to deal with my own garbage and get massive amounts of prayer at the moment. I was feeling quite selfish, and wanting to jump to that place where I can help people, but you’re totally right – I need to heal and grow. Maybe that it’s in that healing and growth that I can truly learn to love and care for others.

    I also like your take on the the stick/eye analogy. I hadn’t seen it that way before, but it makes a lot of sense!

    • Nice to see you here, Sian! I am so glad you found inspiration here to keep moving forward in seeking healing, for your own sake and that of others. I hope you’ll stick around to continue sharing your experiences with this, as I share mine. And may I throw my prayers on the massive heap? 😉

  3. An important lesson I’m learning in healing myself and others: listen. Listen to what the secret parts of me are trying to say, even when my conscious mind struggles to hear them. Listen to the deeper meanings of what others are telling me, not just the surface facts. Think outside the box. Recognize that the path is not always clear, but that if we listen to ourselves, we’ll get where we need to go.

    Since I ended my relationship last fall and moved back to Madison, I am the happiest I’ve ever been, and I feel the most qualified (not that it’s still terribly qualified!) that I’ve ever been to be good to others…and as you say, that’s because I’ve been prioritizing being good to myself. Part of me felt a duty to stay in California, and part of me still feels guilty — but another part of me knew that I needed to make the “selfish” choice and go where I knew I’d be happy. Because when I’m happy, I can also help others be happy.

    Regarding Jesus: I like the distinction between “only human” and “fully human.” That seems like a good way of looking at it.

    • Yes, listening is so important! In Jesus’s vernacular, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” Listening also involves active choice and, as you say, letting your understanding of what is needed in a situation evolve.

      Thanks as always for your thoughtfulness!

      P.S. I’m glad you liked the “fully human” thing, but I’ve gotta give credit to the Council of Nicaea for first clarifying that. 😉

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