Groundwork for Change

How Healing Happens, Part 4

Over the past year, I’ve read some incredible books about growth. It seems like it should be fairly simple: plant the seeds, water them, and they grow. End of story. And it is that simple. But also not. God has designed a complex world. We know that there are multiple scientific processes the plants goes through in order to grow.

So it is with humans and the process of healing. Changes have to happen for healing to take place. So, you’d think, “Make up your mind and just change. No big deal.” But we are so much more complex than that. I love how intricately God designed us, weaving together our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves. We cannot fully heal or grow if one part of us is being held back.

For instance, my adrenal glands (small, hormone-producing organs near your kidneys) had spent so much of their time pumping out cortisol at a breakneck pace to try to manage my stress levels that they finally quit. Mostly. Without functioning adrenals, my energy wasn’t being replenished, I couldn’t handle the stress of everyday life, and my digestion started failing, causing multiple other issues, such as severe skin inflammation.

After discovering this, I started caring for my adrenal glands using supplements, a cortisol replacement, and practicing multiple stress-relieving habits. I’ve been healing, I can tell. But when my stress levels rise, my inflammation still flares (which is a nice way of saying my hands feel like they’re on fire and I want to rip them off). Sometimes I use ointment to help them calm down, but I’ve discovered recently that talking to myself and practicing deep breathing is actually more effective. Outward stress produces a deep inner reaction that triggers a physical overreaction. So complex!

When I try to make a change, I often struggle. Do you relate? I’ve been on a strict diet for 6 months and 99% of the people who ask me about it share how hard it is for them to make a diet or lifestyle change. Me too. I understand. Not many of us are capable of turning our lives around overnight. We have to take small steps to sustain change. Here are some of the principles for growth and change that I’ve been learning.

Do anything. 
Start somewhere. What is the first step we can take? Taking short breaks from foods you’re addicted to? Reading a book tackling your struggle? Scheduling that first appointment with a therapist? Texting a physical therapist friend who might have an idea where you can start? If a sailboat is anchored in harbor, the wind can’t move it. But if it’s sailing, it can be steered this direction or that. If we are stuck, we won’t know where to go. But if we take one step in faith, God can steer us in the direction we should go.

Little by little progress matters
During each of my three pregnancies I knew I was addicted to processed carbohydrates. Crackers, bread, sweets, pancakes, you name it, I craved it and ate it. And after each baby was born I would try to cut out unhealthy carbs. Nothing ever stuck. Once I did pretty well and even lost 20 pounds. Then I got pregnant again and slid backwards. Until recently I would have looked at all those attempts as failure. But they weren’t. They were baby steps. When I was told this summer to go gluten- and dairy-free and then a month later extremely restricted my diet, I was able to make those changes this time. Not because I’m special, but because I’d taken little steps at other times. We have the ability to train our minds and our self-will, but it takes little steps day after day. Nothing is wasted. God rewards our obedience. I might feel like I fail at times but God doesn’t judge me like I judge myself.

Long periods of waiting 
If you tried to plant tulip bulbs in March you wouldn’t have the spring blooms you hoped for. They need the long winter, hidden in the dirt, in order to grow up in the spring. A baby needs 9 months to grow, tucked in the dark womb inside its mother. God built this principle into creation. Growth happens in unseen places while those waiting for it watch in faith. We plant and we water, but God brings the growth, in his own time. Somehow, as we wait for what we hope for, we end up growing, too.

Faith in God’s process
I have always tended to believe that God cares most about our spiritual lives. So it didn’t make sense to me that he wouldn’t just heal me right away since all I wanted to do was spiritual work for his kingdom. But Jesus showed so clearly when he walked this earth that he cared about the physical side of life as well. He was born as a human, for starters, and experienced every need and want that we experience. He healed the sick and raised the dead. And he promises to redeem every piece of creation. So when he leads us to physical actions he wants us to follow in order to heal or change or grow, we can believe that the process is valuable. Trust him in the process.

Pursuing the answers
God doesn’t want us to stay stuck. But he also doesn’t often hand us easy answers. He says, “Seek me and you will find me when you search for me with all your heart.” He’s not like the desperate girlfriend who will do anything to keep her boyfriend with her. God waits patiently for us to pursue him, and when we do, he shows us the way to go. Keep going. Keep poking your nose in and looking for answers. Think and pray through the information you have. Find people to help you. And don’t stop until you have peace that you’re headed the way God’s leading.

Go all in
Since I was a girl, I’ve come back over and over to this prayer: “Here am I, Lord, send me.” The Bible says God is looking for people who are devoted to him. People who say, “Take it all, Lord” and mean it. This sounds so sappy. Such a good girl thing to say. But let me tell you, it is not for wimps. Sometimes I yell at the sky, “God, what the heck? Why is this stupid crap happening to me?” And then I remember how I’ve recommitted myself to him a dozen times. And meant it. And so he’s just doing what I’ve given him permission to do. Living for God is not a walk in the park. He will redeem every piece of you, heart, body and soul and the redeeming process is long. But there is nothing like the freedom he brings. It is definitely worth the cost.

I’m gonna give You my life, my life
As many times does it takes, it takes
And if my heart has to break, to break
Do whatever You need to make
To make me more Yours
– Jason Gray

 

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This is Part 4 of a 6-part series on How Healing Happens. I’m currently in the middle of a search for a diagnosis and healing solutions for some autoimmune and gut health concerns, and along with that, a journey to freedom. I believe we all have something we need God’s healing for and that Christ has come to set us free. I’m not an expert and I don’t have all the answers. I’m just responding to God’s leading to share what he’s teaching me in the middle of the mess. Thanks for joining me!

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