Do you want to be made whole? Do you want to get well? This sounds like a stupid question. Who wouldn’t want to be healed and made whole? But the reality is that many of us struggle to be made whole.
The doctor says we can eat less, exercise and live longer. We ask is there another way?
In 2016, I faced a crisis in my physical health. I was anything but whole. My body was not functioning well. I was battling depression because of constant unrelenting pain. I felt that God had abandoned me.
Here is what I learned in the process about being made whole.
1. Being made whole begins by acknowledging that something is wrong with our mind, body, and soul.
Sometimes, a crisis brings things to a head. A heart attack. A nervous breakdown. A job loss. A divorce.
Sometimes, another person intervenes to get our attention. We are blind to our need. We have been sick so long that we don’t know what being healthy looks like.
Sometimes, we can see the issue ourselves and seek help.
In 2016, I realized that I had a physical problem with my neck. The Trigger Point Injections were no longer working. My health was impacting my work and home life. My normally jolly personality and ability to think were being muted by a constant stream of pain medications.
But I had a pride problem as well. I told myself I needed to push through the pain. Others could handle it, why couldn’t I? Prayer and a stiff upper lip were my approach to the problem. But they weren’t working. So, I sought help.“You’ve got to admit you’re broken before you can be made whole.” — Lecrae Click To Tweet
2. Being made whole may involve the natural approach to healing.
If, we are overweight we exercise and change our diet. If, we have cancer we endure chemo and radiation therapy.
If, we have a cold we take medication, eat chicken soup, and curl up in bed to rest. If the cold gets worse we enlist the aid of others. We will go to the doctor for antibiotics to fight the infection. If, it becomes pneumonia we might be hospitalized for further treatment.
All of these actions are taken in an attempt to get well.
But sometimes that is not enough.
3. Being made whole may involve an interest in a spiritual awakening.
We may be physically healthy but become aware that something is missing.
Instinctively, we know that there has to be more to life than just earning a paycheck and dying. Our souls cry out for meaning. We become spiritually curious.
God works through people to address that spiritual vacuum. People who listen, pray, and spend time with us. People who will non-judgmentally journey alongside us at difficult times and rejoice with us as well.
4. Being made whole may involve a combination of traditional and spiritual treatments.
I needed both the traditional and supernatural approaches in my healing.
In the traditional realm of treatment, I received physical therapy, facet injections, pain medication, and surgical opinions.
I am grateful for the counsel of friends who cautioned me to not make hasty decision while I was in pain. Waiting for a skilled neurosurgeon gave me enhanced mobility. I am able to play tennis at a high level.
In the spiritual realm I sought help in dealing with flashbacks and PTSD. It was overwhelming. My story can be found here. I reached out to my pastor and told him of these painful memories. He listened attentively. He didn’t try to minimize what I had experienced. He prayed with me. I needed that prayer. To be reminded that God cared about what had happened to me.
At that moment I did not experience the tension between the traditional and spiritual approaches in my recovery. A highly competent surgeon. Prayer and support from friends at church. A licensed therapist. They all had a role to play.
But I know that is not always the case for everyone.
There is a stigma attached to seeking help from outside our cultural safe zone. Shame is a powerful emotion and force. Peer pressure knows no age limitation.There is a stigma attached to seeking help from outside our cultural safe zone. Shame is a powerful emotion and force. Peer pressure knows no age limitation. Click To Tweet
For example, there is a stigma in some circles in seeking medication and counseling outside the church for mental illness and spiritual wounds.
I have never understood, why is it okay to take medicines for high blood pressure, but not to take a medicine that would boost serotonin levels for depression.
Both conditions are a result of a chemical in-balance that can be treated.
Why is it okay to go to a church counselor, but not to go to a licensed mental health professional? Mental Health professionals had observed human nature. What insights they have gained are a result of God granting them the ability to learn.
After my neck surgery, I was offered a home health specialist that I initially refused. My wife intervened and called them to come over.
I was ashamed that I might need someone to help me get out of bed, or relearn to walk with balance, or to take a shower. But I needed him to do all of that and more.
With his encouragement I changed my diet, began to exercise and sought physical therapy.
There is also a possible stigma for non-Christians pursuing wholeness in a Christian environment. Being a non-Christian, maybe a tire kicker and exploring faith as part of a pursuit of wholeness can be challenging and uncomfortable.
Some Christians can be smug, self-righteous, judgmental, narrow-minded and unloving. Guilt by association may be a concern.
Yet, it is acceptable to their peers to read ever self-help book ever written. But the spiritual seekers are questioned if they begin to read the Bible or go to church.
Proverbs, a book in the Bible, is recognized as a book of practical wisdom by most and useful for the secular and spiritual.
It is acceptable to their peers to request prayer as the last option when they are desperate. After all, prayer can’t hurt.
But, if it is worth considering when they are desperate, perhaps it is worth considering in the mundane normal routine of life. Prayer is talking honestly to God and asking for help.
5. Being made whole is an ongoing process. It is not a one and done experience.
Regular maintenance is needed. Without continued care we can often end up in the same condition.
Sometimes in worse condition than when we began. For example, we have all learned that weight that was lost on a diet can be regained.
Recently, I realized that I was not whole. My physical, emotional, and spiritual condition had deteriorated.
I renewed my pursuit of physical exercise and diet.
I am pursuing healthy, life-giving relationships with my friends.
I am spending time alone each day with God.
I am seeking additional counseling and EMDR.
Being made whole is a continual process.
Do you want to be made whole? Consider blending the traditional and spiritual in your approach. Don’t let pride and shame keep you from getting the help you need to be made whole.