When my middle child was only 9 months old, he was labeled:
“failure to thrive in childhood,” “delayed milestones,” and “laxity of the ligaments”
Over the next two years, the list of labels just got longer. He has been poked and prodded, examined and evaluated. He has seen specialist after specialist. We are still nowhere near a diagnosis.
I want desperately to know what is going on with my son.
I want to know how to make his life easier and better.
I still think he’s perfect, and I don’t know if I would change a thing about him if I could. He has the best personality. He can light up a room. He is an adorable tiny human being. While I want to know why he struggles to grow, absorb calories, and talk, I’m still not sure I would change a thing about him. I don’t think I would.
He is my perfect little Nathan.
He is who he is, and I love him for that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to give him the best medical care out there and find the best treatments to ease his struggles. Because I do! I want to do all I can to give him the best shot at life.
I have often struggled with how to pray for him. I don’t need a cure. I’m not looking for a cure. I would like answers, but really, I don’t even need those. I love him more than words can say. He really is perfect to me. How do I pray for healing when I don’t even know what it will look like?
It wasn’t until I read Searching for Sunday that I really began to understand healing.
But there is a difference between curing and healing, and I believe the church is called to the slow and difficult work of healing. We are called to enter into one another’s pain, anoint it as holy, and stick around no matter the outcome.
– Rachel Held Evans
Healing isn’t about a cure. Healing isn’t about answers. Healing isn’t about a quick fix.
Healing is found in community. Healing is found in friendships. Healing is found in knowing that you are not alone.
I didn’t know this when we started our journey. I didn’t really understand.
When Nathan was a baby, I had a pastor pray with me after church one Sunday. She laid hands on him and said a prayer. I appreciate this pastor taking time to pray with us, but honestly, I’m not really sure it made a difference.
I wanted people praying for him, but I didn’t really understand the significance of getting together and praying. It almost seemed pointless, a bit awkward, and kind of a waste of time. You pray for him; I’ll pray for him; and we don’t need to bother taking time to pray together.
For where two or three gather in My name, there am I with them.
– Matthew 18:20
Almost two years later, Nathan had to have some more invasive testing done. The tests required general anesthesia, and the procedure had to be done at a hospital 2 hours away in Portland. It was scary for me.
I was scared.
I decided to let the pastors at my church know. I wanted people to pray for him. I didn’t know if their prayers would make any difference, but I wanted people praying for him. He was going under general anesthesia for the first time, and I was scared.
I e-mailed one of the pastors at my church and asked her to pray for him. She said she would, like any good pastor would. But then… she offered to meet with us to pray for him. I did my best to avoid the question, and she asked again the next day if there was a way that she could come pray with us before we headed up to Portland. I didn’t even respond to the second e-mail. It just seemed so pointless… and awkward. I wanted her to pray for him, but I didn’t need her to pray with him.
Why did she want to pray WITH us?
It wasn’t until I read Searching for Sunday that it dawned on me.
I needed her to pray with me.
I needed her support.
Our trip to Portland had come and gone, but we were still looking for answers. I decided to finally respond to her e-mail (three months late). He had a couple appointments coming up, so I asked if she would still come and pray with us.
She responded, “I would be SO honored.”
And that’s when God’s healing began.
She came over, laid her hands on him, and prayed. I felt a little less lonely and not so scared. A new friendship was born, and I know she’s there for us for the long haul.
The church heals by sitting with you, by joining you in prayer, and by saying “you are not alone.”
With Jesus and the Church we are not alone.
I wouldn’t change a thing about Nathan, but I don’t want him to struggle.
I don’t want to struggle.
I need people to struggle with me.
I need people to hold my hand and tell me it will all be okay.
I need community and support.
I need the Church.
I thought faith would say ‘I’ll take away the pain and discomfort,’ but what it ended up saying is ‘I will sit with you in it.’ And… I never thought that until I found it that that would be enough, but it’s perfect. You know, it’s just–I just don’t feel alone in it anymore.
Brené Brown is right.
Other blogs on healing and holding space:
- “What seems to help in the midst of pain.” by Kathy Escobar
- “Why It’s Okay to Not Be Enough” by Amber Hanes
- “What it means to ‘hold space’ for people, plus eight tips on how to do it well” by Heather Plett
- “You Are Not Forgotten” video by Sarah Bessey
Another Brené Brown quote that I love:
I went for the wrong reasons. I really went because I was like this is hard and this hurts…. So I went back to church thinking it would be like an epidural, like it would take the pain away… The church would make the pain go away… Church was not an epidural for me at all. It was like a midwife who just stood next to me saying, ‘Push. It’s supposed to hurt a little bit.’
– Brene Brown