I believe in healing, but I’ve really struggled with how quickly it seems to happen in Scripture. Generally, though not always, all Jesus has to do is poke His finger in someone’s ear or make mud with His spit and rub it on someone’s eyes and what was “wrong” with them is made right. I long to be a part of a world where physical healing is no longer needed; in the meantime, I want “instant healings” like the ones Jesus so easily gives to those who come to Him to be a bigger part of my life. What, for instance, would it look like, if a loving touch was all it took to close a gash without stitches? How beautiful would it be if a broken bone was bound back together by the gentle hands of a friend? This is not my usual experience. I badly sprained my ankle in when I was 13 and it aches to this day, despite both healing prayer and physical therapy. When he was a teenager, my husband accidentally cut into the casing of one of his knuckles on his right pointer finger while trying to wash a really sharp knife and that finger remains crooked. And these are minor injuries: healing is a truly sensitive subject because many who pray for it do not get it and this sometimes results in death.
Emotional healing seems to be an entirely different matter altogether. There is no way to stitch up a soul wound and many times, we are not told we should even need to. Emotional and spiritual wounds are intractable; how does one “heal” from something like Columbine or 9/11 or the loss of a parent at a young age? We can’t put the soul in a cast like we can a broken arm and wait an estimated amount of time before the parts that were split from each other grow back. Striving for a sense of normalcy after a tragedy is a natural response – how we all long to go back to the way things were “before.” But trying to do so after has, in my experience, added insult to injury. The soul, the psyche, the spirit do not heal the way flesh and bone often do.
And we should not expect them to. It is hard to heal. I think the book of Lamentations attests to this; we have as holy Scripture the words wrought from grief, despair and what seems like unending darkness. We want to jump back to normalcy or forward to healing but the most helpful thing I’ve found in the wake of the SPU tragedy is the permission to be broken. We want healing because, to state the obvious, pain hurts. But I think the reason it’s hard to heal is because we long for a goodness we will not fully know in this world. Wounds of all kinds are an indication that we do not have the world promised to us yet and thus, in some way, are the appropriate response. This is difficult for me, but it is also healing in itself to know that my struggle to find wholeness is not itself because of brokenness: in a broken world still longing in desperate wait for healing by remaking, it is hard to heal.