Do you want to be made whole? It sounds like a silly question, but it is profoundly important in reality.
Let me illustrate what I mean by this. The doctor says we can eat less, exercise, and live longer. We ask, is there another way?
The psychologist says our stress will decrease if we take regular breaks. We ignore his advice and skip lunch as well.
In 2016, I faced a crisis in my physical health. I was anything but whole. My body was not functioning well, and 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 ahead. A heart attack. A nervous breakdown. A job loss. A divorce.
Sometimes, another person intervenes to get our attention. We are blind to our needs. 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. A constant stream of pain medications muted my usually cheerful personality and ability to think.
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 approaches 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.”
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 the condition turns into pneumonia, we may have to go to the hospital for more treatment.
We take all of these actions 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.
4. Being made whole may involve a combination of traditional and spiritual treatments.
I needed both the traditional and supernatural approaches in my healing.
I received physical therapy, facet injections, pain medication, and surgical opinions in the traditional realm of treatment.
I am grateful for the counsel of friends who cautioned me not to make hasty decisions while I was in pain. Waiting for a skilled neurosurgeon gave me enhanced mobility. I can play tennis at a high level.
In the spiritual realm, I sought help 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.
He then was wisely and lovingly referred to a licensed therapist to address the PTSD.
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.
Seeking help from outside our cultural safe zone carries a stigma. Shame is a strong emotion and a powerful force, and peer pressure knows no age limit.
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 it is okay to take medicines for high blood pressure but not take a drug that would boost serotonin levels for depression.
Both conditions are a result of a treatable chemical in-balance.
Why is it okay to go to a church counselor but not a licensed mental health professional? Mental Health professionals had observed human nature. What insights they have gained result from God granting them the ability to learn.
After my neck surgery, I initially refused the offer of a home health specialist until 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 the home health specialist to do all of that and more.
With his encouragement, I changed my diet, began to exercise, and sought physical therapy.
I sought counseling for flashbacks, which included cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. I began to write a daily spiritual journal. I began to feel whole in mind, body, and soul.
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 fullness 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 every self-help book ever written. But the spiritual seekers are questioned if they begin to read the Bible or go to church.
If it is worth considering when they are desperate, perhaps it is worth considering the mundane 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 we can regain the weight lost on a diet.
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.
Check out this article for coping strategies if you are struggling with anxiety during the Coronavirus.
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My mission is to help individuals and churches become safe havens for the broken.