It was the summer of 2018. The sun was hot as I laced up my New Balances to hit the pavement for a mid-week run. There was a lot to sort out on this handful of miles and it had nothing to do with physical fitness or the marathon training plan I was working through.
Several bombs had recently dropped into my personal life, blowing it to bits. Running was where I did my best processing. Each stride helping me see how I could start picking up the pieces to put my life back together again.
My marriage was in shambles. A result of two stubborn, bull-headed and broken people trying desperately to fix each other and failing miserably at loving each other. All those misguided efforts had culminated into an epic explosion that threatened to rip our family apart. My husband and I were going to marriage counseling. There, our pastors were helping us navigate the seemingly insurmountable mountains of pride and pain we faced as a couple. In addition to marriage counseling, I was also meeting with a mentor one-on-one, whose victory through similar circumstances lit a torch of hope for me as I fumbled my way through this darkness.
Counseling and mentoring were essential to the survival of our marriage during this season of our lives. However, on this particular day, I was weary of all the efforts. It was as if my spiritual determination to not drown in hopelessness had wearied my soul. With this run, I was determined to find a life raft.
The afternoon sun beat down on me as I turned the corner on an old familiar route. Sweat soaked my tank and blurred my vision. My body’s endurance felt taxed, much like my soul. Just then, words of Life floated up to the surface of my thoughts.
You want to be fixed, God said.
Yeah, that would be nice! I replied, internally.
Your counselors, your mentor, Michael and your family—they all want you to be fixed, too. He went on.
It was true. I hated looking at myself and seeing all the glaring, obvious places where I still needed to grow. I hated seeing my contribution to our failing marriage and being suffocated by the lie I deserved this pain. I hated the depression that crouched at my door. I hated the way I buried my pain and sadness with anger and rage. YES! I WANTED FIXED! And as much as I wanted to be fixed, I could also sense that desire from others around me, too. After all, I’m the strong one! I bounce back, make healthy choices and grow through adversity. But I had never been through a season like this, and those closest to me were worried about how I would respond. They hated seeing me angry, bitter, hopeless and grappling with unforgiveness. My brokenness was scaring them and they wanted me fixed, too.
But God wasn’t scared. And He wasn’t in a hurry.
You’re not getting fixed, you’re getting healed. And healing takes time. God said.
It was the life raft I was looking for. Just then, I got a picture of a wound. What happens when you poke, prod and irritate an open wound? It takes longer to heal. I was severely wounded and my efforts to “get fixed” were bumping up against God’s process of true healing. I needed to stop viewing myself as a project needing repairs. I’m not a project—I’m a human being. I didn’t need fixed, I needed to connect with Unconditional Love which is the ultimate healing agent.
I saw my glaring shortcomings as evidence I must change to receive the love I need. It doesn’t work like that. Receiving the true and unconditional love we were created for is the only way to be truly transformed. Without that, we are just modifying our behavior to play the part. There is nothing that will bankrupt our souls quicker than that. God sees right through our pharisaical efforts to pretend we have it all together when we’re falling apart in our internal world. The only way to be truly transformed is to connect with Unconditional Love—by faith—in the face of our own glaring failures and harsh self-judgement. Walking with God isn’t about behavior modification, it’s about sanctification. Sanctification happens when we stare into God’s face long enough to begin to see ourselves through the lens of love He sees us through.
I saw immediately how this idea of being fixed rather than healed applied to myself personally, but the revelation didn’t stop there. It also applied to my relationship with my husband. Like I said, we had tried to fix each other and—in essence—failed at loving each other. I can’t fix myself, let alone my husband. It’s not my job. It’s my job to receive the love I need for myself in excess so that I have enough to pour out on others.
I won’t pretend I’ve mastered this process, but I have learned what it looks like to partner with God on this journey. I’ve learned He’s patient, gentle and that there’s nothing I can do to make Him love me more or love me less. Coming to deeper revelations of His perfect love in an imperfect world is changing my life and my relationships, layer by layer.
I’m not getting fixed, I’m getting healed. And healing takes time.
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