2018 was a year of healing.
Not in the way I expected, but in so many ways I never would’ve imagined.
Last January, I was in the midst of some of the worst physical pain in my entire life. The kind of pain that permeated my entire body and left me questioning whether or not I’d ever be ‘normal’ again. When I prayed about choosing a word to embody this year, I knew that my word would be healing.
I was on the desperate hunt for answers to my physical pain and a pathway out of it. My soul also felt fractured, hurried, and broken. I knew that I needed healing, whatever that may look like.
These are just a few of the places and ways that I found healing this year…
Healing from Striving. It is so, so difficult for me to believe that I have worth apart from what I am able to accomplish. Measuring my worth based on achievements, productivity, and to-do lists has been a lifelong posture. The Lord knew that I needed to kill this mindset and this process of healing began to take root in huge ways this year.
This healing came through Sabbath. Practicing Sabbath rest was originally a command, from both my doctor and my counselor. Chronic fatigue left me with minimal energy and lots of questions about my worth and identity. Intentionally practicing Sabbath rest each week reminds me that my worth is rooted in Christ. I am just as much a worthy daughter of God when I am resting as when I am doing and accomplishing. Jesus is using Sabbath to heal my soul just as much as my physical body. I believe more than ever that Sabbath is part of Jesus’ healing plan for my life and so making space for that healing to happen each week has been fundamental.
“The Sabbath is all about intimacy with God. And healing is a sign of God’s love for you. What better time for Jesus to heal than on the Sabbath?”… “I have my rules, but all I’m doing is creating an environment where it’s easy for Jesus to do his healing work, week, after week, after week.” -John Mark Comer, Garden City
Healing from Grief. In October, one of my students passed away. He was my student for three months, which sounds like a much shorter time than it is. I love my students, deeply, and this student was no exception. Seeing him for 2 hours every day gave me the chance to grow to know and love him before he died. It was devastating and difficult and I was utterly unprepared to act as a counselor for my entire class.
This healing came from an unexpected place. My students. Grieving with my students and watching them help each other grieve restored my hope and kept me coming to class when I wanted to just disappear. My students, of all different ages, cultures, and languages, supported and loved each other in really beautiful ways through the rest of our semester. They also were unendingly gracious and patient with me as I adjusted to the new normal of continuing our class without Geronimo.
Healing from Anxiety. This one is definitely a work in progress, but this healing is one that stretches into so many areas of my life.
This healing came through yoga and counseling. Counseling helped me dismantle a lot of the lies that were fueling my anxiety and replace those lies with truth. Yoga has helped me to slow down, calm down, and exist in my physical body. Chronic pain has made my physical body the enemy, but yoga is helping me view my body with grace and gentleness.
Healing from Pain. This is the healing that I most desperately wanted. Physical healing did come, but not in an instantaneous, overnight miracle kind of way. I wasn’t miraculously healed of endometriosis or fibromyalgia or even fatigue. But this year held baby steps that moved me towards a more holistic view of wellness. Healing is a process and even the smallest steps in the right direction deserve to be celebrated. I also learned healthy ways to manage my pain and rearranged my life to fit rhythms that help prevent pain proactively.
This healing came through a brilliant naturopath and lots of my own research. My family graciously made it possible for me to see a naturopath who finally listened to my story and did not dismiss my pain as crazy. The naturopath facilitated some testing that identified which foods I was intolerant to and I eliminated those from my diet. She helped me adjust my lifestyle to balance hormones and begin healing my gut. I’m still in pain and I’m still tired, but my energy has increased and my pain has become more manageable than it was a year ago. So I’m calling that a win!
Healing from Hopelessness. When living with chronic illness, it is easy to slip into despair, hopelessness, and depression. The weariness that accompanies constant pain is overwhelming and draining. I have been at various points on the spectrum of hopelessness, but the Lord has redeemed this pain and moved me towards waiting in hope.
This healing came through a promise. In January, Jacob and I traveled to Israel for a class through the seminary. One of our stops was at the Encounter Chapel in Magdala. There is a giant painting in the chapel that depicts the bleeding woman who touches Jesus for healing in Mark 5:25-29. I have never identified so strongly with anyone in Scripture as I did in that chapel. The Lord promised me healing. Because of this promise, I can wait with hope and expectancy. I know that Jesus has begun the healing work in me and that He will complete it in His time.
“People who wait have received a promise that allows them to wait. They have received something that is at work in them, like a seed that has started to grow. This is very important. We can only really wait if what we are waiting for has already begun for us. So waiting is never a movement from nothing to something. It is always a movement from something to something more.” -Henri Nouwen
And most of all healing came through the love and friendship of countless people in my life. My husband who watched Brooklyn 99 with me (almost) every night and loved me extravagantly, especially when it was difficult. My IWU framily who came together for some of the most restful, joy-filled days of my whole year in July. My neighbor and weekly yoga partner who listened and shared hours of conversations. My dear friend and kindred spirit who gave me the space to be vulnerable in various Grand Rapids coffee shops. My Israel and GRTS friends who played games, made bonfires, laughed and shared life. And my family who celebrated graduations and milestones, supported me wholeheartedly, checked in on me, and welcomed me home.
This year didn’t just bring healing; there was also lots of pain. Lots of endings and broken relationships and upheaval and transition. And the healing that did come didn’t just happen. I fought for and pursued this healing and the Lord was faithful in my efforts. I trust Him to bring to completion the healing work that began this year. I am so grateful that I can continue to wait with hope for the day when all things will be made new.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:4-5, ESV