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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is important to many. Our Faith column is a place to discuss how faith (of any kind) positively affects mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.
What is healing to you?
Recently this is a topic I’ve been discussing with a few of my friends. The idea of praying for healing and the ways in which healing might manifest itself. Recovery from emotional hurt, whether mental health related or otherwise, will often take many different forms.
It is easy to want healing to be instantaneous. to see the results of our prayers immediately. But I want to look at a few pitfalls in this kind of thinking.
Mental illness is not “a problem.”
Mental health must be talked about and we should pray for our recovery process (this is good!) but to expect a miraculous “deliverance” from one’s OCD or Depression, although without a doubt possible, may not be the right thing to be praying for.
If I think about how many past hurts and emotional problems my OCD has forced me to deal with and the way in which I have grown through working these issues out, I don’t know if having my OCD miraculously taken away would have helped me as much as going through the recovery process has. I’ve learnt to pray for healing of those things in my life which are impediments to my recovery. I pray for light in those dark areas of my life which need to be brought to the surface.
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In Catholic theology there is quite a beautiful teaching around suffering and the way in which it can be redemptive. I’m not going to write about it here but suffice it to say our salvation was a process from Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane to His resurrection on the third day. He was denied, beaten, forced to carry His cross and then crucified. All of these things played a part in the redemption of mankind.
In the same way when we recover, it is a process, a healing process.
It may be hard while we are going through it and we may face dark moments and trials but ultimately, through it all we find our own “salvation.” We find life again.
I suppose the question I am posing is what do we actually need to be healed from? Our immediate reaction might be to say my OCD or my depression, freedom from my anxiety. But this is only part of the equation. We need to examine what is really at the heart of these issues.
This is why I can’t recommend therapy enough. My experience of going to regular psycho-therapy has been invaluable. OCD and Depression are physiological in origin but I believe they are also cultured and exacerbated by emotional and mental stress or traumatic experiences.
When I speak to my therapist, I don’t speak about my OCD symptoms (and was advised not to) but I still find it enormously helpful in growing in self-love and self-care.
Through therapy I’ve been able to reach a place of acceptance and peace about my mental and emotional battles.
A friend of mine once called his therapist a “healer.” I felt it was a very fitting title. It is not necessarily what you might think of when you hear the word “therapist” but sometimes it is the inner wounds that need to be addressed in order to understand the outer manifestations of our issues.
I find great comfort in the knowledge we have a Saviour who knows what it is to suffer in mind, body and spirit.
He cried out from the cross, “Father, why have you forsaken me?” I think anyone who has experienced the depths of depression or anxiety can relate to those words.
I find when I unite myself with Jesus in His sufferings, I begin to realize He carries my cross with me.
Suffering is an unavoidable part of life. To me, healing is not about relief from suffering but about inner growth and becoming more fully who God created me to be. I am not saying we shouldn’t want to get better, or trying to find a way through our trials is wrong. I am saying I have experienced healing through some of the darkest times in my life and so I can’t renounce those parts of me. They were somehow integral to my life journey, to who I am as a person.
And isn’t this the mystery of salvation? Life emerges when all seems lost.
We should continue to pray for healing in our recovery, but try not to measure “progress.” Because so often what we think needs to be “fixed” in our lives and what actually needs to be addressed are not the same thing.
What is important is to trust God, even when we lose sight of Him in the stormy seas. Know He is with you.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39, NIV)
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