My Story of Healing
In January, 2014, I received a kidney transplant at Massachusetts General Hospital. This was an amazing experience for me. I showed up around 6:00 AM on the transplant wing of Blake 6. The attentiveness and care of the staff was amazing.
Shortly thereafter, I was wheeled through the catacomb-like hallways toward surgery, huddled under my hospital blanket that protected me from the icy air passing over me.
I felt my anxiety rise slightly. I was going to be going under anesthesia. That meant I would be giving multiple strangers with many degrees on their walls permission to cut open my body and add someone else’s organ into my cardiovascular and urinary plumbing!
I tried not to overthink that one.
When I arrived at surgery, I was IV’ed up and soon swept in. A young Asian woman was my anesthesiologist. She looked up, and I beheld her upside down face smiling through her mask. She then sweetly told me I would be ok and stroked my forehead.
I said, “Oh, thank you”, but in my head was an “I’m fine.” Yet I suddenly felt my heart warm and a sense of relief come over me as her hand brushed gently across my brow. “Oh! I guess I am a little nervous,” I suddenly realized. A combined sense of warm comfort and vulnerability came over me.
What seemed only seconds later, (actually three and a half hours later) I suddenly found myself in my room back on Blake 6. My catheter fed a near nuclear orange urine bag from years of toxins trapped in my body. These were now being systematically expelled by the healthy new kidney that my friend gave me. I was feeling better already.
Here are some universal truths about healing that teach us a lot about how to deal with emotional hurt.
1. Healing sometimes hurts – There is a certain violence to healing that is unavoidable since the fall. When my step dad was in Philadelphia Naval Hospital after he lost his leg in Vietnam, he said the worst part was the bandage changes. Our eternal healing as Christians is founded upon the grizzly death of God’s Son. The sanctified life toward the kingdom is full of bloody and painful bandage changes.
2. Healing can be messy and invasive – When I got my transplant, I had to literally be cut open and have my innards replumed. I am glad I did not get to see it. But you know blood was everywhere. Saving my life required a bloody invasion. God brought healing into the world through the bloody invasion of the Christ on a cross. We have to embrace that mess to know healing.
3. Healing requires trust – I had to let these doctors put me unconscious and entirely trust them with my life. This is true with our spiritual and emotional healing as well. Sometimes we are in so much pain, It feels unbearable. But we have to trust that the Great Physician will get us there. What the Bible means by faith is “trust.” If we want spiritual and emotional healing, we must learn to trust His hand. We must trust enough to obey his commands.
4. Healing is cleansing – There I sat after the transplant and saw my urine sack fill up with years of trapped toxins. I began to feel like a new man. But it took time. The healing of the Christian is not all at once. It is a process called sanctification. This is a tough process because we still don’t see clearly, but through a fuzzy mirror.
5. Healing is scary – Facing healing is not easy. Going into surgery was a little unnerving. It is especially true with emotional wounds. We often don’t want to face people and situations necessary to move on and get well. Sometimes we have to risk the hurt of healing. There is a veil of tears we must often pass through to get to joy.
6. Healing is not easy – We do not want to make light of the difficulty in healing. When it comes to emotional healing, it often requires a choice and effort that other forms of healing do not. The body has natural processes that kick in regardless. But emotional healing most often takes a choice. And this is aided by a plan and disciplines. For instance, I have to choose to forgive, or choose to get counseling, or to practice grieving in a way I do not when I scrape my knee. That will take care of itself. With emotional wounds, we have the choice of trying to move forward or staying stuck.
7. Healing is the only way forward – We ignore this one at our own peril. There is nobody who can reach down into your mind and change it for you. Only you can make the choice to forgive and live again.
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