The church's promises of physical healing have troubled me before. And I really get steamed at the inside-the-box thinkers who suggest that others are sick because there's something wrong with their faith.
I told another pastor who attends the church, Marcos, and who is also a friend of mine, about my unease with this philosophy. I told him that while I believed in spiritual healing, I felt it was presumptuous to claim physical healing in God's name, as though all of us with enough faith should be entitled to perfect health. Because in my theology, all things are up to God, in the end.
Marcos' response surprised me. While he agreed with me that healing is ultimately up to our god, he yet said, "It's important to claim health and healing, and stop focusing on illness. By speaking words of light, we end up being healed, because the darkness of illness cannot remain where there is light."
I agreed with him; in fact, I have written about this before in previous blog posts, because I believe we become what we think about.
The pastor continued, his kind, large eyes full of light, "As for you, the point isn't for you to be healed in your body, anyway. The point is to transcend the flesh, so that it ceases to become important. Thank God for what you have; thank God for the healing you have attained thus far. Look at Him; don't look at your illness. By doing so, you will cease to care so much about your symptoms. They will become secondary, and as a by-product of your positive thinking, the bacteria in your body may leave, because you are no longer giving them a hospitable ground in which to flourish. Because you are walking according to the Spirit, which is higher than the flesh, and which, in the end, commands the flesh."
Wow, Marcos. I thought. That's profound.
Whether or not you ascribe to Marcos' theory, as I do, you may yet agree that it's good to get away from the lowness of Lyme-ville and move to higher hills of thought.
So how do you shift your thinking when your body constantly reminds you through symptoms about how broken you are? Often, I avoid going to the worship service at my church, because everybody stands up during the worship service, which lasts an hour, and I cannot stand for this long, and having to sit down while everyone else stands is a powerful reminder that yes, I still do have Lyme disease! I find it impossible to concentrate on God and instead get depressed. To avoid this thinking, I go to church after the worship service is over.
While it's difficult to ignore symptoms, and Lyme-related activities conspire to keep us bound up in thoughts of illness, perhaps, as the pastor suggested, we can counter the Lyme activity and our borrelia-on-the-brain through verbal affirmations of healing and gratitude, spoken every time a negative thought about illness enters our minds. Done often enough, saying "thank you" may actually serve to alleviate symptoms.
Shifting our thoughts to other subjects when we realize that we've already devoted the first two hours of our day to musings of how horrible we feel is likewise important. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to accomplish through the force of our will or intention alone. The thoughts run too deep and we tend to get stuck in mucky patterns that keep us floundering in swampy thoughts of disease and desperation. Opening a good book on another subject--or performing an activity that requires the mind to go someplace besides Ill-Ville, is one way to climb out of the swamp. But it must be an engaging activity, not a thoughtless one that will leave your mind to go wherever it pleases...to Ill-Ville, Neuro-Lyme Land or the township of Terrible Pain.
Prayer, when it is focused on God, gratitude or on others, is another strategy. Because when we pray for ourselves, what do we say to God, in our petitions? "Lord, please heal me! Please fix my horrible Lyme life!" Try another prayer, or try to empty your mind through meditation, and ask God to speak to you that which you really need to hear, which may have nothing to do with thoughts of illness and how to heal your physical body.
Personally, I wish it were easier for me to climb out of my flesh and onto that higher spiritual plane which my pastor friend spoke of. Occasionally, I do. When I feel good, it seems easier because my body isn't constantly screaming, "Hey, pay attention to me! My back hurts!"
Yet, I know that Marcos is right; his words speak wisdom and truth to a mind that tends towards desperation and Lyme, because these have been such a significant part of my life over the past (almost) four years.
But it's time to say good-bye. It's time to cut the strings of attachment and say good-bye.
If you feel the same way, then change your perspective on healing. Instead of thinking that you must desperately keep searching for answers; instead of devoting so much brain space to borrelia and thoughts of how bad you feel, treat your body and your life as if the answers were already there, and trust that the healing that you need will manifest, as promised. Because that healing can be now. At least in your spirit. And when the healing has manifest in your spirit, then perhaps one day, your body will follow.