I’m tired. That’s all. I’m just tired. My 3 hours of commuting everyday is wearing thin on me and it’s compounded by the rate at which life is going right now. We’ve identified some life changes to create some more time though, so hopefully things will open up and slow down soon. Speaking of driving, Joy and I were driving recently coming home from somewhere when the conversation turned towards the topic of healing. Not physical healing, but mental and emotional healing. We’ve lived a relatively blessed and peaceful life. Neither of us have ever suffered through the abandonment of family or the abuse from a loved one. Sure, we have both lost loved ones and have regrets, but that’s just the entry fee for life. So the idea of mental and emotional healing is kind of foreign to me. Because of this I tend to have a background mentality of suck it up buttercup. To be honest, my inclination to view things through a black and white lens has hindered my own growth a little bit. For better or worse I don’t know everything, yet I sometimes judge situations as though I do. Through a sometimes painful process though I am learning to withhold judgment, and in its place just listen and observe. And it’s been eye opening for me.
We’ve had two great kids staying with us for a few months now, which is our first attempt into the world of full time parenting. At times it’s been rather messy on our part as we try to figure out what this whole thing looks like. It’s resulted in snap judgments between Joy and I, lost tempers, sheepishly pursuing forgiveness, lots of trial and error, and some really great moments of progress and growth. While we were in the training to become foster parents, one of the many things that we learned was what I call the “behavior bell curve”. This is the idea that kids who come from hard places usually have a sort of honeymoon period in a new home. Then, when they get comfortable the underlying behaviors begin to exhibit themselves. So the lesson from this teaching was to not be discouraged when this bell curve pokes its ugly head up because it’s supposed to happen this way. But that’s easier said than done and difficult to even remember when a child is screaming in one ear while another is kicking you.
***If you’re one of the 3 people who read this and you’re considering becoming a foster parent don’t let what I just said discourage you.
I don’t even know what triggered my thought on the topic but the punch line was that many of the people who Jesus healed some 2,000 years ago were healed only because they made the decision to expose their unhealed, raw wounds. There’s two stories in particular that I thought of during this conversation.
So picture this: Jesus is in his lower 30’s and walking all around the middle east talking and doing neat stuff. His fame is growing quite rapidly and the crowds who come to see him are bigger with every speaking engagement or miracle he performs. Enter stage left: some poor woman who was suffering from constant bleeding for 12 years (Luke 8).
As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed.“Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
This poor woman was bleeding for 12. straight. years. It says she could not find a cure, which implies that she looked. For 12 years. If it were me I would have accepted my current state as the best I would ever be. We can assume based on the culture of the time that she was an outcast, considered unclean and unworthy of being a part of society. For 12 years she silently suffered through her pain, keeping it well hidden from the world around her. Then, with one act of an outstretched hand to the one with power to heal…she was healed.
Or how about this one? A paralyzed dude from the city of Capernaum heard that Jesus was coming to town. So his four friends tossed him onto a gurney and carried him to where Jesus was staying. When they got there, much to their dismay, Jesus was speaking and the house was full. Even the front yard was full but they had to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus somehow, and that’s where the story picks up (Mark 2):
They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”
Both of these stories involved people who had vulnerabilities. This second guy was paralyzed. By societal standards of the time he was useless, worthless, and unclean. Society told him that his paralyzed state was God’s punishment for sins; a punishment that he very much deserved. Unable to make a living, we can assume that he had to rely on handouts; his dignity dying a little bit every time until he didn’t even have that. Unable to walk or feel, I can imagine that he would have resigned his willpower and accepted his fate. Then Jesus came to town and everything changed. His friends were convinced that this was his lucky break and that healing was just on the other side of town.
So, let’s circle back around to the dreaded bell curve. Joy and I have been loving on these 2 great kids for a few months now and we’re helping them work through some thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that we’ve never experienced before. We don’t always know how to respond or how to help and it’s made me feel more powerless than ever before. The fact that these thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are now showing up is a good thing though. It means they are now being exposed and able to be healed. Much like the two stories above, we all have some sort of pain or shame in our lives. Maybe it’s an addiction. Maybe it’s a regret. Maybe it’s a lack of confidence. Or maybe it’s a response to circumstances outside of our control. But no matter what the pain or shame is, there is healing to be found if we just reveal it to the one who has power over it.
As foster parents, it is our job to create an environment where these kids feel comfortable enough to reveal their pain to us. Doing so is sometimes(ironically) painful for us too. It often times presents itself through late nights of crying, emotional meltdowns, uncontrollable anger, or sometimes even physical aggression. It is in these moments though that we can personify Christ’s constant and healing Love in the same way that those in the stories above witnessed, and in the way that we all deserve.