What do you want? Since March I have been trying to figure out the answer to that question. I thought it was obvious and never wrote it down before. I just had an idea of where I wanted to end up but never really considered all the details. Since law school I have been floundering around trying to get into the right direction.
In March, quarantine began and I ran across a famous person’s video talking about Habakkuk 2:2. “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” The famous person said vision boards help you understand what you want and help you ask God for what you want in life. I realized it helps us move in that direction too. I thought “well that makes sense.” So I wrote down what I want my life to look like.
In July, I read John 5:6 where Jesus asked a paralyzed man “Do you want to be made well?” I thought it was odd that Jesus would ask him that, especially since the text says Jesus knew he had been in that condition a long time.
It would seem obvious that a person would want to be well, to get up and walk, to be freed from the things that prevent us from doing what we want. Right? This answer is not as clear as we think it is.
The truth is that we struggle to get up and walk because we’ve been paralyzed for so long that we trip and fall. Then we want to give up. We don’t know where to go because we’re not used to living life this way. We don’t want to go back to the way things used to be but somehow we end up there anyway. The new stuff seems odd, like breaking in a new pair of shoes. We look around and see that other people seem to have it all figured out and we’re the only ones who don’t. Recovery is hard.
I always wondered at the way that the paralyzed people in the Bible just start walking around. I also wonder that the blind people just see things and know what they are. I mean this guy just walked around, another guy was lowered through a roof and walked around. There’s a couple more and they walked around. There was a blind man who Jesus took aside and he said he saw people walking around looking like trees.
In current life, when we break something or can’t walk for a while we need physical therapy to try to retrain our limbs to fulfill their purpose. Several years ago, I had a back issue that lasted for several weeks and I couldn’t work. Then my pelvis slipped out of place and I couldn’t walk for about three days. Then I was in a lot of pain for a couple weeks and just waited for the pain to subside. By the time the pain subsided my muscles were so week that I couldn’t sit up straight. I needed weeks of physical therapy to regain strength and stamina. I needed months of using them and strengthening them to be able to sit up straight and walk for extended periods of time without pain.
That the paralyzed people are able to just get up and walk is a miracle within the miracle. I always wondered how they just walked. Consider toddlers and all they go through to walk. Consider those who break their leg or have surgery or some other temporary issue preventing them from walking. There’s a lot that goes into walking again. So, really it’s a big deal.
I think it’s like that for us. For most of us we start out with some sort of base problem that we grow up with. It could be just about anything from domestic violence to emotionally distant parents. There are as many situations and reasons as there are people. But we continue the situation into our adulthood and enter into relationships that are similar to the situation we grew up in. Because it seems normal, we don’t identify warning signs and red flags, because we need a crazy version of love. Then we decide to escape. We want things to be different in some way or another. We make decisions – to leave, to not date, to do better, etc.
So we give it a shot. The new type of guy is boring, he’s not as adventurous. The new relationship isn’t exciting, there’s not enough attention. Expectations aren’t met because that guy is the safe guy. Then we leave and we end up with another beater or we end up with a person who doesn’t beat us but is still no good. He’s familiar. Familiar sometimes feels right even when it’s wrong.
We’re so used to the anxiety, fear, and adrenaline that we think something is wrong with the boring guy. But, there’s nothing wrong with him – it’s us. We need to learn how to walk in these new shoes, with these new legs.
Circling back – we need to write out the vision and make it plain. We decide that we want this new type of guy. We decide what we will accept and what we won’t – stick to it. We decide what we think and feel, what we want, and how we want it. We tell God the vision – that yes we want to be well, but hey we don’t know how. Then we need to chase this new version of life that we have decided on as much as we chased the guy. I think God gives us the miracle in the miracle when we invite him into it.
I believe that when we chase our new life, we find God, and our new guy finds us. There’s a cliché that says, nice guys finish last. I don’t think that’s always true. I think we all get lost along the way to finding each other because we have to be well to do well. We don’t go after being well as much as we go after covering up the broken pieces. Because we’ve covered it all up, we don’t think we deserve the nice guy and the good treatment because we’re all dark and hopeless inside.
I also think that when we start to recover, we hit some bumps or snags. We become overwhelmed by that dark hopelessness. We want to go back because this new way can be painful when we remember all the stuff. But, if we just sit with the stuff long enough we can understand it and move on from it. It hurts to just sit there with it. It feels like we’re dying on the inside and that we’re being torn into pieces. It feels lonely and crazy and unbearable.
When the pain has been with us a while, it reveals what it really is – it shows the thing underneath to us. Most people who are abusive have been abused. There’s usually a family cycle. There’s usually some distortion of reality that we don’t see on the surface. We hurt from these and then we cover them up with other things – drugs, alcohol, people, shopping, food, or adrenaline.
Even though it hurts and it’s hard the truth is we can do hard things. We can endure much suffering. We can chase recovery with our whole self. Making vision plain, writing it down, and knowing what we want the end result to look like – that’s the easy part. The other stuff, sitting with the pain and understanding why we do things, that’s the hard part. Experiencing the uncertainty and the growing pains from doing new stuff is hard too. Chasing recovery is answering the question “do you want to be well” every moment of every day with a resounding, unwavering “yes.”
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