Yesterday was Winter Solstice. Here, half way between 15 degrees N and the Tropic of Cancer, night began to fall at 5:30. The early darkness is a weighted blanket, enveloping weary souls with comfort and peace. There is no cajoling to play outside until nightfall, few obligations to be out. Like a yearly Sabbath, winter’s darkness brings the rest we have been yearning for through the sunny, bright days of heat and labor. It feels like an inverse metaphor. Somehow in this one case, black is peace.
These quiet, dark evenings of family games, of tea and books, of puzzles and handicrafts are also for introspection. The busyness of a year in her zenith is fueled by mindless adrenaline and endless checklists. We are often numbed to emotion, to internal battles, even to spiritual delinquency. Yet as our starry fireball sinks earlier and earlier behind the western cloud banks, our thoughts slowly turn deeper and deeper inward.
Perhaps that is partly why the subject of healing has become more and more present in my soul. Questions like “what does true healing look like” and “when can we know we are healed” and “can we actually ever be healed” are ones the quiet dark have allowed me to wonder.
Perhaps part of this conversation is found in our baby Damian’s 8th birthday last week. Part of it is found in the occasional nasty email. Part is found in moments that are frankly unshareable due to their particularly sensitive nature.
I think I began thinking about true healing a few months ago after a difficult zoom call. I felt it was incumbent upon me to share some certain, very painful details about our life from the last 8 years. The moment I opened my mouth, my hands started shaking uncontrollably, my heart rate rose and in less than a minute was struggling to compose my emotions.
I thought I had been basically healed. I thought my nervous system had been reconditioned. I thought I could talk about those hard things like a third party looker-on. But I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
As I struggled to dominate this unexpected surprise, the question rose in the back of my mind. “If this is what I thought was being healed, what is healing really?”
During these days and weeks of thoughtfulness, David shared a quote, I believe by Thomas Brooks, that basically said that at the end of trials we should be able to look back, not as the one who experienced it, but rather to have gained the capability to view those days through the eyes of God.
All wounds leave some sort of scar. That is obvious. But we sometimes expect emotional wounds to either never heal or become scarless. Neither can be true. I was told a few years ago to “get over” Damian’s death. That individual expected that my grief should be scarless. Others have accused us of acting the victim–they believe our wounds are a) invalid and b) will never heal, ie: we will forever loll in the mud of their slinging.
All wounds, physical or emotional leave a scar. So I will cry every December 12th and February 10th until the day I die. I expect to physically shake every time certain people and their actions are mentioned for the rest of my life. We battle a trust crisis that will likely follow us the rest of our days.
But those things don’t mean we haven’t been healed.
If healing is viewing our life through God’s gracious, loving, omniscient eyes, is it not possible to be healed even while weeping and trembling and bending in pain? Is healing then not equivalent with a shedding of pride, of bitterness and anger, a release of our sense of justice? Can I not then be healed while still knowing I am sidelined, cancelled, despised? When those things are facts but no longer incite my soul to sin, is that not healing? It will still hurt, but with a pure hurt. Not hurt of my pride, but hurt for God’s heart to see His people fall into sin again and again.
Healing then is maybe found more in a dispossession of sin in my own heart than in the normal physical expectations society has long demanded of us. Which is, of course, viewing myself and others through God’s eyes. This spiritual maturity and Christ-likeness in healing is a lifelong process, a slow but beautiful journey away from myself and into Him. That I may know Him….and the fellowship of His sufferings.
In that view, we can never be truly and fully healed until His strong and holy pierced hand takes our weak and weary one, leading us down the street of gold and on to the springs of living water and that blessed verdant Tree covered with leaves of healing.
And that is ok.
It keeps us leaning on Him through this wilderness wide. I’d rather limp with Jacob than be healed only to invite the enemy in like Hezekiah.
At the close of this year, during this season of peace and introspection, may we find the sorrows and trials of the last months enveloped in knowing God, may we find healing in His love. Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.
Thank you for reading, for supporting, for praying. You have no idea the comfort and encouragement your being a part of this community has brought our family.
Wishing you many, many blessings and will see you here next year!!
Because of the One who loved us and gave Himself for us,
your sister, Penelope