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Our Sickness Must Grow Worse
Once a Week
I remember the first time my mother used rubbing alcohol to clean a wound. Streaming out the front door in my soccer uniform and excited to run around with new cleats and shin guards, I tripped over the steps onto the sidewalk and skinned both knees. Boy did it hurt! But then Mom poured this clear liquid on my bloody knees that burned like fire. What on earth! I would have gladly put up with the gentle sting of exposed tissue compared to the pain caused by this liquid torture device. But of course it was actually a cleansing agent, and thankfully mother knew better than my 7 year old wisdom that intensified pain in the short-term is worth getting long-term and deeper healing.
Therapy is like that. We want pain relief, but instead of acetaminophen we need isopropyl alcohol. Sometimes this involves uncovering raw emotions that have hidden behind activity, comfort, and analgesics, literal and metaphorical. Sometimes a cleaning agent isn’t enough, and so “the wounded surgeon plies the steel / that questions the distempered part” (T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets). Sometimes the surgical steel questions the claim to have grown up in a “loving Christian home,” which Curt Thompson observes is often code for “Life sucked, but I can’t really say that out loud,” (The Soul of Desire). Though it hurts, healing can’t ignore the concrete ways that life sucked, not for everyone, but for you, uniquely and individually.
Speaking out against the cultural Christianity of his day, Kierkegaard wrote that “Christianity is done away with, for it has become an easy thing, a superficial something which neither wounds nor heals profoundly enough,” (Training in Christianity). Profound healing follows profound wounding. That is, profound healing requires profound honesty about the profound wounding that has been there all along.
Quotation from T.S. Eliot
Our only health is the disease If we obey the dying nurse Whose constant care is not to please But to remind of our, and Adam’s curse, And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.
Redeeming Heartache: How Past Suffering Reveals Our True Calling by Dan Allender
What would it cost you to be honest about the hurt that you need healed?
Praying for and laboring with you,