A friend and I escaped into the mountains for an afternoon last weekend, and it made all the difference. Even though we didn’t have to drive that far, something about it refreshed our souls and gave us the chance to look a little more objectively at life.
My friend and I sat in a little coffee shop in the mountains and got real honest. We shared our moments of feeling insecure, jealous, and left out. She quietly and gently handed me her heart to carry for that moment, and I reached out with timid honor to hold it. We observed this group of middle school girls roll their eyes at each other, exclude each other, and bop their heads to the Maroon 5 song playing overhead. She said, “I always thought it would go away. The jealousy – but it kind of just gets worse as we get older.”
In that moment I wanted to fix everything. I wanted to make it all better. That isn’t a bad desire, of course, but it isn’t what helps. In the long run we have to figure out how to let people heal, instead of trying to cure everything.
In her book, Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans writes,
“The thing about healing, as opposed to curing, is that it is relational. It takes time. It is inefficient, like a meandering river. Rarely does healing follow a straight or well-lit path. Rarely does it conform to our expectations or resolve in a timely manner. Walking with someone through grief, or through the process of reconciliation, requires patience, presence, and a willingness to wander, to take the scenic route.” (208)
Healing is slow and steady. Curing is fast and outcome-focused. I’ve found myself this week asking, “How can I walk with people while they struggle/hurt/question towards healing?” Instead of trying to fix things, to provide a cure, how can I accompany people on the road to healing?
Of course, the answer is making space. My job title (“Life Direction”) implies that I offer a lot of fixes or cures or straightforward answers. Which in some ways, we do have that opportunity. But when it comes to sitting with someone who is struggling, questioning, wondering…what we all really need is space.
My grad program at Denver Seminary had a focus on offering “Spiritual Direction.” What this really means is sitting with someone and asking questions like, “Where is God in your life right now?” We don’t ever offer answers or cures – that is the ultimate no-no. Really the only “direction” we offer is go towards God. Look to Him. Let Him be your Healer. When we sit together and create space for Him to heal us, it will happen. We offer care, instead of a cure. He offers healing, instead of Band-Aids.
We have to make space for healing in our own lives too. Sometimes this means stepping back from other plans or invitations, to respond to God’s invitation to us. I had a disappointing conversation with someone this week that took me right back to all the lies. I was consumed by not enough/insignificant/failure/disappointment. Amazing how quickly we can get to those places, isn’t it? In that place, God didn’t offer a cure. He didn’t fix the situation. But He is healing me. Further reminding me of who He is and who I am in Him. I am enough, significant, victorious, treasured. In Him, we are those things. He offers healing, not quick fixes. Have you ever noticed that when we ask Him for an answer to a problem, He usually responds with Himself? He rarely gives us a practical step-by-step process to follow. When we ask for a situation to be fixed, He says I am with you. Not always what we are looking for, but always what we need. He knows that Presence is what heals, not answers.
Here is what is actually helpful. Find that friend. Say, “Get in loser, we’re going ____.” (Mean girls reference) And then drive 12 miles or 2 miles or 300 miles until you find space to breathe and hope and maybe, just maybe, heal. Sit in a coffee shop and hear your friend’s hurt. Sit in a small group and nod your head, hold their hand, don’t say a word. Understand where they come from and pay attention to where they are at now. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to solve all their problems. Sitting, listening, understanding, empathizing, making space for healing – this is what will change us. The “Mmhhm” or “me too” when someone lays their heart out on the table. This is what God invites us into. This is the sacred space of healing. Fixes are temporary, healing is eternal.