I can’t start writing on the prompt “heal” without mentioning my dad. Three weeks ago he had a massive heart attack that easily could have taken his life. Four separate times he was spared, by the grace of God and the work of skillful doctors and nurses. He is still in the first 30 days of recovery, which is crucial in determining the extent of recovery possible. I keep praying for healing. Did you know that tiny new arteries can grow through damaged tissue, carrying new life, and helping it heal? Grow, arteries, grow!
Sometimes the need for healing is subtle. Especially if there is little or no pain. Yesterday I found that I have a bone bruise in my foot. Sounds painful but it isn’t. There is a small amount of swelling that causes some popping in the joint, which is at most annoying. Wearing athletic shoes prevents the popping, and so voila, nothing is “wrong” with my foot! Until the doctor massages deep into the tissue to touch the bone itself, and it smarts.
I had a phone call with my collaborator at another university yesterday. We talked shop until I realized she knew nothing about my advising professor deserting the lab, leaving my institution and trying to push me to finish my PhD in the next 1.5 years. With precisely zero guidance from him. Suddenly her tone changed and her message became “Take care of yourself” and “You deserve a good mentor” and more particularly “You can’t publish a paper or finish your PhD without a good mentor” and “You need to leave your lab now and get a good mentor even if it takes you years longer to finish and you have to abandon your project”. She means well, and as a side note, I’m not totally sure that she is right. There are plenty of students who have finished their PhDs with less than great mentors. But that’s another discussion.
Despite my desire to deny the truth of her words, somewhere deep inside, there is pain. A hurt that few circumstances can finagle down deep enough to massage, a bone bruise of sorts. A fear that she is right. That I’ll never amount to anything without the right guidance – in my career or in my life. A pain of what i have not been given. Yet a retort that no one deserves anything. How can someone tell me I deserve a good mentor/advisor now, when by the same logic, doesn’t every child deserve to be raised by loving and healthy mother and father? Yet the world is full of devastated childhoods. I have certainly not experienced the worst of what many children do, but growing up with a mentally ill mother will leave a mark. Growing up with a father who denied said illness will leave a question. Am I worthy of being taken care of? Ever….by anyone? Could I really deserve a good mentor for my career, when I’ve mostly lacked that for my life? Can I truly choose what I want/need now, in a situation where I do have power, when I could not choose then and somehow God was still good and in control? These questions are too deep for my emotional capacity, so I support myself with whatever athletic shoes I can find so that I can forget about that down-deep bone bruise. But the absence of pain does not mean there is no need for healing.
(Five minutes are up but the thought isn’t quite finished)…
As I’ve grown up, healing has certainly come in this area of my life. Often new seasons, new circumstances that poke the hurt spots are God’s gentle way of bringing us to the next level in a long journey of deeper healing. I have learned that sometimes it’s all you can do to experience the pain for a short time. Today, I have bravely sat with these emotions for 5 minutes, aware of the pain, most importantly with God in the pain. Now it is up to the Healer to do his work.