Love heals. It’s easy, and it’s difficult. And it’s a process. That’s one of the difficult demands—patience. People want to be “cured”. They desire the instant gratification of the miraculous, but real healing is a process that may take time and produce unexpected results.
Some folks are stuck. They’re like hamsters on a wheel. Year after year the circumstances and the characters change, but they are caught in the same spider’s web of instability and drama. For a myriad of reasons, they haven’t done the work it takes to make significant change. In other words, they haven’t done the hard work of healing.
The therapist I worked with the longest and the hardest wanted me to write a book called: How It Works. She wanted me to tell the story of the hard work of healing, how you go to the therapist’s office week after week, year after year and talk about what feels like the same stuff over and over again until you’re better. And for some people, like me, that works well. Talk therapy. I’ve told a short parade of therapists my story and talked and talked and talked, and they have all helped. Some days I have talked so much I’ve tired of the sound of my own voice, but that’s the price you pay. Eventually, you find some peace and quiet.
For years I told the stories of my childhood. I talked about my mother and my father and even my sister here and there. I relived and recalculated and repeated and as the years and my own circumstances changed, so did the therapists. But the general process was the same. We tell the stories of our wounds and show our scars and seek compassion and wisdom and grace. We get the attention that love is supposed to give. We recreate the “good mother”. With the help of a compassionate listener, we make our way through the dark forest into the light, or at least to a better, healthier place.
I was lucky that talk therapy worked so well for me because if there’s one thing I know how to do –it’s talk. You might even say I make a living talking and have for years since I started out as a bartender and worked my way through seminary to become a preacher. I’ve been talking and listening to people for a long time. And I’ve reached a conclusion that gives me at least slight comfort in that misery-loves-company kinda way—we’re all wounded with a painful story to tell.
Again, the circumstances and the characters and the settings all change, shimmering backdrops, shifting with the time and temperature, but the woundedness sounds similar wherever you go. People are hurting, and they self-medicate and run amuck and wind up just like those aforementioned hamsters on a wheel, not able to face the pain long enough to work on it and be set free. God’s love is liberating, and putting the power of faith together with the hard work of healing makes new life possible. It will get you off the wheel and out of unhappy patterns and defensive dramas. Jesus promised eternal and abundant life. We rehash the past and worry about the future and forget that the power is in the present moment. God is with us now, here and now, where the work begins. So, take a deep breath and know that your feelings won’t kill you, but acting out on them might.