Years ago I read Chasing the Dragon by Jackie Pullinger. I don’t remember why I picked it up, although I did think I’d someday go to a foreign mission field, so I read one or two books about those experiences.
One of most impactful things I got from this book was that sometimes the drug addicted would come to her for help, pray to God and immediately be sober, clear minded, healed, and never crave drugs again. Other times the individual would pray, and then writhe in agony for days, crying out for relief from the pain of detox.
And both would love Jesus…
Only part of the story
When people share their experience, we tend to think it’s formula. We should share our experiences, but not assume that when we see God move it’s the only way he does move. This especially applied in my life regarding addiction and mental health. I remember hearing a testimony of a women who turned to God and found such peace and healing that she broke up with her psychiatrist and cancelled her prescriptions. It was impactful and proof to many in my sphere that God could heal all of us, physically and mentally. We rejoiced! It became part of my theology.
That isn’t the whole story, she did attempt suicide again.
The biggest problem with not coming forward and telling the rest of her testimony in progress is that we forget Christians are (as writers call it, WIP) a Work In Progress. God is faithful to complete what he has started in us, but we won’t be fully completed on earth. There are still waves of faith and there are seasons of suffering. It’s like the tension of “already and not yet,” sanctified.
We’re so eager to hear and tell the end of the story that we miss out on the intended journey of living broken–and on the intended journey of living with broken people.
I love music by Plumb, and not just because I have a beautiful red-headed niece who makes me think of her. I wanted to share this video because the imagery makes me tear up. But even in her lyrics, “And you can be whole again,” there is a promise we only taste here on earth. The taste is lovely, but there is more to come. So don’t loose hope if your wholeness isn’t fully realized.
When my husband was first dealing with his life changing injury, someone came up to us and apologized to him. The man essentially said, “I want to ask you how you’re doing but I can see from your face that it isn’t good. So I’m sorry, I’ve avoided you instead.” It was a gift because instead of requesting the end our our testimony, he entered the journey.
I think sometimes we beg to hear the ending because we realize that if God delays a remedy for someone else…there’s a chance he won’t remove our pain immediately either! The only other option when someone is suffering is to blame them, “Well, it’s probably something you did,” like Job’s friends said. I’ve done that in fear, at least in my mind.
Hope is in the journey, not the waiting room
I started thinking about this last week when a friend sent me the article “A More Christian Approach to Mental Health Challenges.” It’s worth pondering that when we only try to numb, cover or medicate symptoms we are essentially turning our journey into a waiting room. John Swinton, the author and theologian, says in that interview,
“The life of Jesus and indeed of many of his followers down through the centuries would indicate that fullness of life does not mean life without suffering, or life without illness.”
Walking the process of pain and tasting the wholeness from afar is hope. We can share that hope by not insisting we are already finished, or asking others to sanitize their journey by saying it’s over.
And just for fun here’s another video.
Can someone just hold me?
Don’t fix me, don’t try to change a thing
Can someone just know me?
‘Cause underneath, I’m broken and it’s beautiful.