Saturday, October 8, 2011

Getting Off the Hamster Wheel of Healing

When I was in my twenties, I read a book by a popular Christian author which told the story of a blonde virginal Christian co-ed who is attacked and raped by a stranger. She becomes pregnant and decides to go through with the pregnancy. Her fiancĂ© dumps her and her Christian school kicks her out. By the end of the book, she has given birth to a perfect baby girl, she has forgiven her rapist (within nine months), completely gotten over her rape (within nine months) and has a handsomely rugged new preacher fiancĂ© (within nine – ok you get my point).

Good Christian girls don’t have PTSD, evidently.

This is all perfectly consistent with the modern day Christian Theology of Pain, which is that no matter how horrific the event, God will buff out all the rough edges and make you as good as new. The signs outside churches promise it. The preachers on tv guarantee it.

I certainly believed this is the way it was supposed to work for a very long time. When I first left the POS church, I went in search of the sermon, the small group lesson, the Bible Study that would get me better. Then it was the conference, the therapy session, the book, the blog. And I would certainly find things that would educate or enlighten or make sense to me in some way and YES! I had it all figured out! I was all better now! It was like a temporary high. But in a few days or weeks I wold be hit in the face with my damage and brokenness, and I would be back in the pit.

The emotional and spiritual abuse I've survived are like an amputation. And for years, I've kept waiting for God to grow my leg back. Every story I heard and every book I read seemed to say that was how it was supposed to work.

And yet, the leg didn't grow back. I got furiously angry. I got depressed. I thought God hated me personally and intensely.

I'm beginning to wonder how many other people sit in church who feel how I felt. The couple who is called to testify how God "restored" their marriage after an affair, when in reality the consequences and the pain still haunt them both. The parents who have lost a child who can never say out loud that they no longer believe that "God works things for the good of those who love him".

What happens when the leg doesn't grow back?

I'm ready to get off the Hamster Wheel of Healing. It's not that I don't see the value in the blog or the book or the therapy session, but I'm ready to stop believing in salvation or rescue. I'm ready to strap on a prosthetic and limp through life, rather than waiting for God to turn me into this pink and perfect person.

Maybe that is what true healing is, when you stop waiting to be saved or fixed, and just live life how you are.


  1. I'm reading this blog and writing mostly to tell you, you are not alone.

    I too, am trying to figure out where I fit in the spiritual realm and where God exists for me.

    As someone who has lost a child, I can say that I am not experiencing any kind of full healing from that loss, and admittedly, I'm not seeking it, either. I really doubt I am supposed to. I don't blame God or really hold Him responsible. Babies just sometimes die and it's no one's fault. However, I admit that after that, I feel like I should have some damn awesome things coming to me...things that others would wish for themselves as much as they wish they never lose one of their kids...and that's not happening. I feel like I am really struggling and I'm having a harder time with that than actually losing my son. If God is a just God, then shouldn't He be doling out some pretty intense *fairness* here?

    The idea that life will continue to be like this, pretty much pisses me off, yet I have a feeling that expecting more is probably a moot point. *shrug*

  2. There's healing, and then there's scars. I haven't been healed from some things (yet) and have been healed from others. But even in the things I have been healed in, I still have scars. There are things I still can't bring myself to do - wearing any kind of scarf/headband - things that still hurt - my parents never ring me, and haven't seen me or my kids in 3yrs - and yet I consider myself healed.
    Your line about strapping on a prosthetic and limping through life immediately made me think of Jacob - he limped for the rest of his life. The touch of God on his life actually caused his limp. Not sure exactly where I'm going with this, just a thought I'm sharing, lol!
    The thing about expecting God to provide a perfect, pain-free life (and if there is pain, for it to be 'redeemed' within a few months) is that it's such a modern, first-world theory. Most of the people in the bible had seriously messed-up lives. I've been reading through the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the last couple of weeks, and it's a picture of an incredibly dysfunctional family! I've been shocked that God chose these people as His poster-people, you know, 'I'm the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob...' So far, there's been incest, passive-aggressive behaviour, wimpy men and manipulative, controlling women - and that's not even going into Jacob's kids! These people were a looooong way from perfect. Then there's the New Testament - impulsive Peter, Judas, the disciples fighting amongst themselves, Paul and Barnabus argueing over what to do about Mark, and the list of people who were sawn in half, stung to death by ants, eaten by wild animals... So why do we expect that things will be perfect for us?
    It's that weird prosperity gospel thinking that sneaks into our lives that makes us think about God as some kind of celestial Santa Claus dishing out extra good lives to His favourites.

    Life hurts. And it's not fair. And it may not ever be fair, this side of heaven. And to say that it should be, and that if your life isn't fair, that it's somehow your fault... is just wrong.

  3. @Montana Wildflower - I'm so very sorry about the loss of your child.

    I wanted to comment on this "I can say that I am not experiencing any kind of full healing from that loss, and admittedly, I'm not seeking it, either. I really doubt I am supposed to."

    I think this is very true, and I didn't get this for a long time. I honestly thought that with enough therapy, I could be Marcia Brady. The great paradox is that when I've let go of healing, I've finally started finding some.

    And I totally hear you on the idea of fairness. One of the hardest things to come to grips with is that there isn't any. I mean, I'm sitting here in my temperature controlled apartment typing on my personal computer. Right now, there is a kid somewhere else in the world picking through a garbage dump. It makes no sense at all.

  4. @Donna - I have my issues with the Bible, but you are right about the fact the Bible doesn't teach that life is without pain. That is definitely a modern consumer Christian idea. It occurred to me recently that, according to how the Bible reads, Jesus had scars after raising from the dead. Even he didn't get to be perfect again.

  5. Your honesty is refreshing. I've wrestled with all of this and have no answers (which is infuriating), but that last line - maybe that is the key. I found your blog today through Elisabeth Esther's, and I'm so glad I did.