“O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed” (Jer. 17:14 NLT).
I was in a dark, dark place, almost overwhelmed with emotional pain, reeling from the most devastating crisis of my life. I felt like I was drowning in hurt and grief. I struggled to even imagine a future worth living.
I still went to work, but my heart wasn’t in it. Most of the creative energy I usually brought to work was being consumed by my pain and the work of emotional healing.
I started each morning by meditating on the 23rd Psalm. I met regularly with my accountability partner and my counselor. I studied books, a highlighter in hand and journal nearby, working to make sense of what I was going through. I joined a weekly support group where I gained insight and strength from others on a similar journey. For six months this work absorbed almost all my emotional energy until a light appeared at the end of the tunnel. Even after hope returned, the work of healing continued with less intensity for several years.
Elizabeth O’Connor writes of her struggle with debilitating physical illness:
As a way of coping I became a student of the disease that plagued me. My attention was focused on it in a way that might be called self-absorbed were it not for the fact that when one is ill the illness becomes one’s work.[i]
When I can’t do all I normally do I often get frustrated. My wife’s go-to response in this situation is to feel guilty that she’s letting other people down. It’s easy for us to get discouraged when we can’t do all we normally do.
In these seasons of my life, O’Connor’s words have become a liberating gift. When we are ill, when we experience intense emotional pain, healing becomes our primary work.
My doctor recently recommended major diet changes to address some health issues. That means educating myself on my health challenges, researching hundreds of recipes, and figuring out where to buy ingredients I’ve never heard of before. It means experimenting with recipe after recipe, often trying three or four to find just one keeper.
Lately I’ve felt frustrated that the creative juices for my writing have largely dried up. A couple of weeks ago the light came on. I am once again in a season of where most of my creative energy has been redirected to the intense work of healing. If a week or two goes by without the world seeing another blog post from me, that would be okay. I don’t have to beat myself up. Because right now, healing is my most important work.
- What do you say to yourself when illness or emotional distress makes it hard to fulfill your normal responsibilities?
- Can you choose to affirm, “My primary work during this season is the work of healing, and I’m doing the work I’m called to be doing”?
[i] Cry Pain, Cry Hope (Word, 1987), 114.