I love talking about healing the body because it can be so straightforward. Eating a healthy diet, experimenting with how certain foods affect your body, exercising and getting a good night’s sleep are all things that can help pretty much anybody in their journey toward better health. I love encouraging others to try healthy recipes and keep track of their physical health because I love seeing people set free from things that plagued or pursued them sometimes through their entire lives before they gave a healthy lifestyle a chance.
But physical problems and symptoms aren’t always due to physical causes. And sometimes the mental and emotional traps we are caught in are worse than anything physical we could ever even dream of. You don’t have to ask me how I know, because I can tell you – I’ve been there. I’ve been caught in anxiety and depression neck-deep, with wounds in my past of abandonment, abuse and anger. I have felt forgotten by God. I know what it is like to wrestle with these things and I know that sometimes it’s the wounds you can’t see, the symptoms you only feel with your heart, that are most in need of being healed.
I was doing a study recently, perfect for a nerd like me, where you look up the words in the Bible in their original language. Here’s a fairly stock verse, one that most Christians have heard many times:
…it is by grace you have been saved!
When you look up the word “saved”, it translates into the Greek word sozo. Sozo has a definition of “save, heal, preserve, rescue.” Did you catch that? Heal. God doesn’t just want to deliver us from death. He wants to heal us, to make us whole. Again, I don’t say this from a standpoint of somebody on the outside looking in. I say this to you because I know, in the depths of my being, that God wants wholeness for you. God wants healing for you.
So often, when we experience deep pain, we either shove it down, so far and deep in our hearts that we never truly have to face it, or we numb it somehow. We numb it through eating food, or drinking alcohol, or being successful in other areas of our lives, or chasing after things we think will satisfy, we think will fill up over the top of that huge hole we’ve dug. Maybe it’s marriage or parenthood or friendships that you think you can mine the depths of and use to cover up the hurt buried deep within. Perhaps you think if you help enough people, your heart will be healed from your own hurts.
Perhaps you think that if you are “healthy” enough, your insides will heal, as well. Now I do believe in a connection between living in good physical health and improvements in your mental and emotional health. In my own life diet and adaptogenic herbs have played a huge part in healing certain aspects of my mind, because the mind also cannot function optimally when it is housed inside a body giving it junk as fuel. The fact of the matter, however, is pain doesn’t just “go away.”
You see, pain itself is not the enemy. Pain is inevitable in this bumper-car life where you will continue to collide with a fallen world you cannot control. Unhealed pain, however, will become your greatest foe if your broken heart is not made whole again after each collision. And dearest friend, there is only One who can take the shattered pieces of your heart and put it back together so that it flourishes even in the worst situations…you can be unshakeable, living fully alive in each moment, taking risks, trusting your heart, fully aware of what you love, remaining yourself in every circumstance, and adoring God with every part of your being. However, if your heart remains broken, even as a Christian you will experience consistent separation between your heart, soul, mind and spirit that keeps you from living in joyful connection with God and others.
– Christa Black Gifford, Heart Made Whole
Christa hit the nail on the head there, you guys. When I read this I just sat in shock for a moment, re-reading to be sure I had gotten it right. And that is not the only time I felt that way in this book, just so you know.
It’s not enough to heal your body. It’s not enough to cover over the gaping holes in our hearts with outward appearances or even truly good works. Our hearts need to be healed in order for us to move forward in true health and freedom. I want to encourage you guys this week to focus on identifying the holes in your own heart, and bringing them before your Healer. It’s not enough sometimes just to “ask” for healing. Sometimes you have to dig deeper. You have to ask yourself what lies you have believed as a result of this hurt. You have to ask yourself how living those lies has affected your actions and behaviors. And you have to replace those lies with God’s truth. Then you’ve got to live it! Over and over, until it becomes as natural as living the lie.
My wish for you is that you would learn to live healed, live whole. That you would put as much energy and effort and dedication into healing your heart as healing your body. Because there you will find the fullness of a free life.