“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” – Maya Angelou
I grew up liking butterflies. The colors and patterns on their wings fascinated me, and I liked how they would fly and land on flowers gently. When I was in primary school, I used to draw one on the back of my hand. When I joined high school, I began drawing it on my left calf daily, and I would fantasize about how I’d get a butterfly tattooed on my left leg once I finished school, but that didn’t happen.
Though I liked butterflies, I feared caterpillars. I never imagined how those creepy creatures could turn into beautiful butterflies. And that’s exactly how the healing process is. It is messy, crazy, feels creepy, sometimes ugly. You feel more fearful than hopeful, but that’s where healing happens, and the end is amazing.
There’s a story of a great man called Naaman, recorded in the Bible in the book of 2 Kings 5. This man had leprosy. Leprosy is a chronic disease that attacks the skin and damages the nerves, which makes the person affected be in excruciating pain. When he learnt that he could find healing in Israel, he went there, and his servants joined him. He was hopeful, and when he came to prophet Elisha’s place, the prophet sent a messenger and instructed Naaman to go wash himself in the river Jordan seven times, and his skin would be back to normal.
Now Naaman was a high-profile captain in his nation. He was an honorable man and expected prophet Elisha to come out, call upon God and pass his hands over his sick skin, but that didn’t happen. He was filled with rage, and he began going away and complained that there were greater rivers in his nation than the ones that were found in Israel.
You see, Naaman was entitled and was dictating the blessings that he wanted from God. Yes, he wanted to heal, but he wanted to dictate the process. He wanted instant healing. And many times, like Naaman, we despise simple tools that can help us, and we want to dictate our healing process. And when we can’t find our way, we quit.
Naaman was favored to have servants who cared so much about his healing, and one of them went to him and persuaded him to just do what the prophet said. Naaman listened to him. Healing gets bearable with such people around us. Is your family interested in your healing? Do you have friends who will remind you why you began the healing journey? Begin forming your support circle if you have none. These are safe people who genuinely want the best for you. Naaman found courage to go down to the river because of his support system.
Though his servants supported him in this journey, none of them could get into the river for him. We can get all the support we crave from family and friends, but they can’t do the inner job for us.
Naaman had to get into the dirty river for himself, by himself. Healing is an inside job. It’s an opportunity to get in tune with your soul, which then deepens the connection with your Creator. This is true because when Naaman came out of the water, he was completely healed, grateful and chose to praise the living God of Israel, that is God the Creator.
I used to imagine that healing is a cool, smooth event where people sit in silence and meditate and voila, all the pain is gone. But when I went for therapy, I learnt that it takes time, effort, determination, and intentionality for me to heal. And healing is in the process; it is not a destination. I loved it when my therapist would celebrate the little progress I would make. When I would beat myself up for being stuck or for having a relapse, she would guide me into identifying the small wins and that motivated me to keep pressing on.
Sometimes I wish there were a pill one could take to forget the pain and all the ugly experiences, but that can only exist in my dreams. We cannot dictate the healing process, but we can trust in the Lord of the process as we put in the work.
One of the major habits that I’m unlearning is skipping meals. I came to learn that when I skip meals, it opens a rabbit hole to other struggles. I shared this with some of my friends, and they helped me stay on track. One would message me and make sure that I had cooked and eaten.
I needed support in this area because I would skip meals and forget about it, and it was just normal for me. Besides that, I began planning my meals so that I don’t have an excuse for not eating. And every evening before going to bed, I never miss recording and celebrating any step I have made towards recovery. This keeps me going.
Here is a helpful statement that I borrowed from a friend that can guide you in choosing healing daily. Before you commit to any activity, ask yourself, ‘Is this activity supporting my body and creating an environment for it to heal?’ This will guide you to be more intentional in choosing the path of healing.
When you fall, ask for help, be self-compassionate, and keep moving. Remember, we heal through the process and God is in it with you, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
What is your greatest struggle in your healing journey? What are you going to do about it today?
“Broken but Beautiful” is a weekly column by Faith Gor, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. She shares her story and healing journey to offer hope to other survivors.