I remember the first time, as a young clergy person, I dealt with a domestic partner abuse situation. I was completely dumbfounded when, after law enforcement, social services and I had worked hard to find an alternate living situation, the abused party was allowed to return to the house in which the abuse occurred. When I shared my painful bewilderment with the very seasoned social worker she said to me, “Healing is very hard work. You have to be willing to let go of what you’ve known, even if it is bad, and move on to an unfamiliar future. Certainly that makes sense to you, Pastor.” That one conversation changed my perspective on healing.
“Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them for they were seized with great fear.” (Luke 8:36-37)
This reading from our Daily Office on Monday has aways intrigued me. Why would healing cause such great fear? Wouldn’t common sense tell us that healing is something we desire for ourselves and others? That is, until you remember that healing is hard work.
Any of us who have gone through a significant surgery know that it takes a great deal of time until we feel “whole.” It is often a long process of recovery that involves relearning or establishing new ways of being. Patience and perseverance, strength and courage, as well as lots of encouragement and support are critical for healing. And the reality is, if we do not begin the healing process, it will undoubtedly get worse. We can try to live with it. We can hope that it might just go away. But our “wounds” inevitably get worse, not better, if we do not begin to take the often frightening steps toward healing…regardless of if that healing is mind, body, or soul.
Healing is hard work – yet it is the most important work we will do, and it is clear that God desires it for us.