Sunday, October 15, 2006

Thoughts on Healing

I have vague childhood memories of my dad's sister hiding under her bed because she saw satan drive by her house in a black car. She spent years in and out of facilities, and in my opinion, never found real healing. It seemed to take over her, and actually become her identity. I don't think she would have known who to be if some part of her body or mind weren't hurting and needing to be attended to.

My more immediate family has also dealt with issues related to the area of mental health. Uncles, Cousins, and siblings and their children have dealt with diagnoses such as: bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, clinical depression, and a few other garden variety challenges. Most received good medical care in timely fashion, cooperated with the advice of their physician, and have gone on to living full, productive, authentic lives. They recognized their struggles as illness. They treated the imbalances with the appropriate medication- much like a diabetic takes insulin, assuming that the research on the illness was correct, and that supplementing their bodies with chemicals that it was not producing on its own would help it run in its intended healthy way.

Not so for everyone. For reasons mysterious to me, some have refused medical treatment, and believed that God would heal their minds. I believe that this is possible. I believe that God heals in our day and age and that he is the Great Physician. But these are the same people who take tylenol when their head hurts, antibiotics for strep throat, and trust the anesthetist and surgeon to repair broken bones and ripped ligaments. Which begs the question-- Why is the issue one of faith if your mind is ill, and science when your physical body is ill? What would one do in response to cancer? Refuse treatment? Spend more time in prayer? I'm all for prayer. I just think that God is way less narrow minded than we are. Who made the scientists smart? The Great Physician. And I say, thank God for that.

When people see lithium, prozac, clonazapam, and anti-psychotic pharmaceuticals as "giving up on God" and instead pray for healing, and believe that God will change a persons blood chemistry, I can't help but think of a little story that my 12 year old daughter recently shared with me.

There was a man inside of his house who saw a huge flood approaching. He cried out to God to save him. A van pulled up alongside of his home and offered to take him to higher ground.
"No, thank you", the man responded, "I'm, believing in God to deliver me."
The flood waters continued to rise, so the man went up to the second story, and again, cried out to God to save him. A moterboat roared up to his second floor window and offered to take him to safety. Again, the man insisted that his God was faithful, and would deliver him from the flood waters.
As the waters drove him up to his roof, he refused to give up on his faith.
"Thank you Lord for your faithfulness! You, and You alone can deliver me from this trial!"
At this point, a helicopter flew above him and lowered a rope for the man to climb.

Needless to say, the man stood on his rooftop crying to God for deliverance, until the floodwaters washed him away.

We have the privelege of living in the wealthy west. We have medical care at our fingertips. We have pharmaceuticals. We have caring professionals.

We have vans, boats, and helicopters.

Thank God.


andrea said...

In the version I heard God actually replied saying, "I sent you a van, a boat and a helicopter. Whaddaya want?!?"

mmichele said...

i heard that ending, too. i always wonder why people seem so squeamish about mental illness vs. other illness. of course, some people are also squeamish about physical illness.

and i loved your poem. i wanted to leave 'a silence' because for me there seemed to be no response except to read and be still.

Carlotti said...

Amen sister! My heart aches for those who cannot see mental illness as just that - an illness. At the same time, am so grateful that so many of us with mental illness in our genes have the incredible freedom of living without that horrible weight on our minds and shoulders, thanks to medication.

Here's to managing illness of ALL types.

Heather Plett said...

I thank God for creating the smart people who created anti-depressants nearly every day. They have helped make my husband a healthier happier man.

Roo said...

when brian was really really sick i had a dear friend tell me that brian shouldn't have surgury because it wasn't in the bible.

neither is coffee or chocolate. things she enjoyed in abundance.


love ya!

joyce said...

you are right about the ending, I'd forgotten. Probably would have made for a better conclusion too...
thanks for the support, friends. I know that for many, this type of illness is frightening, and so they react in anger, strong opinions, and judgement. Lucky for me, none holding those views commented here....

Anonymous said...

My grandfather was schzophrenic in a time when mental illness was never talked about.

My parents handled it all so well.

We DID talk about it.

Medication made him well.

It did not make us believe any less in God's healing power either.

Excellent post!

Judy -

WithinWithout said...

So well said, Joyce...and this touched my life, for the umpteenth time again, today.

Someone I love dearly, who knew she needed meds to stay on course and be happy, consulted with her doc and they decided to reduce them as an experiment.

She eventually became miserable and depressed.

Being the intelligent person she is, she went back to the same dosage she had before and is now fine.

And this has happened to countless people I know.

You couldn't have made this point more realistically and sensibly and sensitively.

svea said...

hi joyce, i am sorry to have been gone for so long an not commented, you were in my dream last night i was giving you a hug. I guess you needed it and I did too. love you my friend,

joyce said...

thank you Judy, WW and Svea.
I'm glad the post resonated. No, I'm really glad.
Svea- you and I are both among the worlds most fortunate since we both have so many humans who care. I too have been wondering how your transition is going!

Christy said...

Preach it, girl! I'm pre-diabetic, and sometimes God's answers to prayers are drugs.