Tag: healing

A relational breakdown starts slowly, almost imperceptibly. Something isn’t right but you can’t quite put your finger on what’s out of kilter.

A dark cloud drifts over the friendship and refuses to leave. A subtle shift emerges, its unspoken message rather clear. Idle words cut deep. Eye contact becomes non-existent. Texts go unanswered. Plans get cancelled with the wave of a hand and vague, hurtful excuses.

Something disquieting is floating in the wind and right before your very eyes, what has been so safe, strong, and comforting is morphing into a relationship you can’t even recognize.

Any conversations that do take place find you walking on eggshells, weighing your words, your eyes brimming. That wonderful easy freedom to fully be yourself has vanished and you feel, well … unsure, unsafe, unwanted. And oh so terrified.

You choke as you experience betrayal. Exclusion. Abandonment.

Blinded by loyalty or familiarity or fear of stepping up and speaking out, you stay silent. Left unspoken, all the accumulated hurt, frustration, and grief gather ’round your heart and clutch it tight.

You’re afraid to address the elephant in the room.

For who would you be without that person in your life?

The pathway of the broken-hearted is uneven and messy, strewn with tears …

Betrayal
Repeated disrespect, dishonesty, and disloyalty serve as warning signs that there are huge issues that must be addressed. Shattered trust is difficult to mend. It can be done, but only with a commitment to the value of the relationship, prayer, and honest, grace-filled communication.

Conversations where truth, love, and respect mingle are the only hope of salvaging a dying relationship. And forget about texting and email. These are dead ends that only lead to more misunderstanding. Don’t go there.

Denial
An inability for both friends to each own their own responsibility for where they find themselves leaves no future hope for the relationship. It takes two.

The continued refusal of one friend to acknowledge the other’s heartbreak and the stark reality of the deteriorating situation halts any kind of understanding and reconciliation.

Abandonment
Shattered trust, denial as to the damage done, and unwillingness to commit to the hard work of healing close the door to any kind of deep, authentic friendship.

Grieving
The death of a long time relationship is akin to a divorce, a death. This is a loss that deserves to be acknowledged and mourned.

Forgiveness
To wish the other person well, to allow her to move on without you in her life, is a beautiful gift you give to yourself. And to her. This most likely won’t happen quickly … and it doesn’t mean reconciliation.

But it does lead to peace.

Growth
Hitting bottom as you lose someone valuable allows you to focus on the only One who’ll never change like shifting shadows, who won’t forsake or abandon you. God is always inviting you to something deeper and more substantial. A renewed passion for your faith in Him is able to redeem all the heartache you’ve experienced along the way.

For He specializes in restoring our seasons of brokenness {Joel 2:25-26}.

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Let’s talk about how you’ve survived the death of a friendship and what you learned in the process …

 

 

 

Must Reads …
Necessary Endings
~ Henry Cloud

Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend
~ Irene Levine

The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It
~ Leslie Vernick

Linda Stoll is a pastoral counselor to women in Cape Cod, Massachusetts where she lives in a little town tucked between the ever-changing bay and the ocean deep. Married for 41 years, she’s celebrating faithful friends, a decade of blogging, and the simplest daily joys. Her greatest claim to fame is her seven grandchildren, one who now lives in heaven.

She’d love for you to share this post with your social media tribe because she knows that everyone’s been wounded along the way. And she invites you to get to know her better right here.

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faith hope

My father-in-law knew all the idioms that have become American Proverbs.

The squeaky wheel gets oil.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Don’t cry over spilt milk.

You have to know when to which.

I didn’t always understand them or how they fit but he seemed to pull one out for every situation. Do you remember the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Remember how he used Windex for everything? Yeah, sort of like that.

Unlike the Windex (I think) some of those idioms fit. Maybe all the door joints need oil to keep them performing at optimum capacity but it’s only when one squeaks that you notice it.

For me, it’s plants. They need water regularly. And, apparently, plant food. I water them when I see them start to droop. When they are starting to literally die from thirst, I realize, oh, guess I should water them.

There are times our soul is dying of thirst but no ones knows until we collapse from depression. Our heart is broken but until the anxiety squeaks loudly we hide it well.

Do we want to get well or do we just want to get better?

I was at urgent care recently. I knew the problem but the over the counter stuff wasn’t the cure. The Dr. asked the usual questions and when I told her what I was taking, she said “that only treats the symptoms, it won’t get rid of the infection.”

Isn’t that what we often do? The drinking is only treating the symptoms of our fear of flying, our lack of self-esteem, our unknowing of who we are.

Over using prescription drugs treat the symptoms of an overcommitted life: too many yeses without room to breathe. Our need to please everyone while ignoring self-care.

It’s just so hard to say ouch. I’ve worn the mask that looks like a permanent smile. You put it on to make others feel good but you’re the one who needs to be healed of the hurts you’ve carried too long.

Getting well means letting people know what’s really wrong.

The doctor at urgent care performed the usual procedures. She looked in my ears, nose and throat. She listened to my lungs and heart. She also needed to know my symptoms.

Since I was sitting in urgent care it was obvious something was wrong. Now wasn’t the time to lie or try to mask the problems.

It’s easy to hide the emotional ills like worry and anxiety. We can explain them away as concern. We strive to get better rather than get well.

We get up and show up. We lead a group or are the hospitality queen of the neighborhood. We’re killing ourselves with our drive for Instagram perfection.

Getting well means going deeper than the surface. It means full honesty with ourselves and those who care for us. It means being brave to let others hear our squeaky hearts.  It means allowing Jesus to break the cycle of fear or striving.

Do you want to get well or just get better?

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I expect we’ve all prayed for healing. Mostly for others. We pray for God to heal a grandparent of cancer. We pray for healing for a church member or our neighbor. Some days it seems we’re surrounded by people who need the healing touch of Jesus.

Can I confess to you that I think my prayers for healing are a bit half-hearted? That’s not something a person of faith should say is it? I’m not proud of my lacking in this area. I have prayed sincere prayers that God would reach down and heal, right now, a friend. A parent. But I’m not sure I expected it to happen. Not in some miraculous way. I believe I would have been surprised had Linda or Quincy recovered immediately from their cancer. Pleasantly and joyfully surprised but I wonder if my prayers for healing are lacking.

You see we viewed the ‘faith-healers’ as jokes. The ones reaching out and slapping people on the heads on televised shows. The pretenders.

There were many prayers for healing in my church but not any healing miracles. Folks eventually recovered from their back aches or bronchitis. Surgeries were successful to remove the benign tumors or repair broken bones. But when my best friends melanoma turned into brain cancer we prayed hard for healing and the answer was no.

Maybe I’m not seeing the real healing. Or maybe it’s my faith that needs to be healed. It’s not comfortable to carry the title ‘ordained’ and wrestle with faith.

prayer can heal

Sociologist and pastor Tony Campelo told a story about being compelled to offer prayers for healing. Each Sunday after their worship service, he invited anyone who needed healing to stay and he would pray for them, anointing them with oil. He knew God was leading him to do this.

In the months that he prayed for specific healing for people, no one was healed. Not one persons physical ailments went away. But, he began to get notes and messages of emotional bonds that were strengthened. Marriages that were made stronger. There was healing, but of a different kind.

It’s more than physical maladies Jesus wants to heal. Maybe that’s where I start. Heal me from my skepticism, Lord. Heal me too.

Linking up with Five-Minute Friday

faith Five-Minute Friday hope

We got a new car. The other one was 8 or 9 years old, without any of the technological advances in newer models. I’m crazy about the Bluetooth enabled feature for listening to music though it can get a bit pesky when it plays without my prompting. The feature I’m finding most helpful and one that gets daily use is the backup camera. I know, I know. Where have I been, right? It’s fantastic! Every time I put the car in reverse the camera turns on. What took so long for me to know how fabulous and helpful this feature would be?

rearview mirror

There’s that tension between looking ahead and looking behind. It would seem our culture focuses on looking ahead more than behind. Our lives won’t get anywhere going in reverse. Except….

We like to talk about learning from our failures but we don’t want to fail.

We talk about correcting the mistakes from our past while we are admonished not to live in the past.

After coming to the conclusion that choosing one word for the year doesn’t work for me I’ve learned what does.

I was reading photographer Kim Klassen’s words on choosing her word for 2016. It took her two full weeks into the year before she realized the word had been in plain site all along.

That’s when I learned what my word for LAST year was: Healing. I could only learn that in reverse. Through looking at the books I read, the relationships that developed, friends I reached out to, realizing buried hurts and resentments, all of these were about healing. I couldn’t have seen that coming. I didn’t set out for that to be my theme for the year, yet it was.

“By default, most of us have taken the dare to simply survive. Exist. Get through. For the most part, we live numb to life – we’ve grown weary and apathetic and jaded… and wounded.”  Ann Voskamp

Focusing ahead is good. But learning from yesterday is what will help guide my future.

It gives new meaning to the truth that God is the same yesterday, today and will be the same tomorrow. He knows my past, remembers all the things I’ve hidden from memory and He knows tomorrow.

“He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.[b] 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.” James 1: 17b-18 NLT

It’s too early for me to know what this years word will be. But I’m looking forward to learning in reverse again. To look back and see what God brought to me because He knows my needs  yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Linking up with Coffee for Your Heart at Holley Gerth’s place.

faith

Who ever knew these holidays, the ones to honor our mothers and fathers, could be the toughest of all. Hallmark doesn’t make a card for “The Dad Who Has Everything…..including a drug addiction and jail time.” Or, “Thank you mom, the best thing you could have done was put me in the foster home. I’ll always remember you for that.”

red

Walking through the church doors the greeter would ask, red or white? The red carnation pinned to your lapel or dress (in the days when we wore ‘church clothes’) signified your mom was still living and the white, that she’d passed on. The moms would be asked to stand and little prizes given to the one with the most children with her in church that day. Sometimes the oldest would be recognized for her stalwart faith in raising generations.

Times changed and we don’t do that anymore. We try to be sensitive to the women who want nothing more than being a mom but can’t or are still waiting. So many reasons people can feel excluded so I suppose we just celebrate women and that’s good. Dads have never gotten the fanfare of mothers so maybe there’s not as much change there.

When we go through the calendar in our Rehabilitation Center, there are so many joys to share with these men throughout the year. Advent and the Lenten season are particularly special as some are new to the spiritual side of these holidays typically called Christmas and Easter. But I dread Mother’s and Father’s Day.

We stumble our way through these days, learning to follow their lead. They’ve seen our family, heard our stories of childhood and seen the pictures. We don’t hide our celebration of good but imperfect families and homes. They celebrate with us. And we hurt with those who ache from the dad who was never there or the mom who did put her sons in a foster home.

Before chapel, M, leaned over and told me his son had unfriended him on Facebook. This boy he loves and has been half way around the world to see, is hurt, angry, over his father’s relapse. M knows this. “It is what it is”, he says. And it’s the deepest kind of pain, I think.

A daughter messaged me asking if we’d heard from her dad. She was planning to visit him. Bring his grandson to see him for the first time. But his regular calls had stopped. Again.

chapel remodel

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J gave the welcome and this 20-something young man celebrating over a year of sobriety told us he hadn’t had a good relationship with his dad. His dad is still in addiction. “But I’ve forgiven him and I’ll call him today and tell him I love him.”

Grace? Amazing grace!

And so another and another stood during our time of sharing and thanked a God who has brought them to this place of healing, of restoring families, and making all things new. My eyes water while my spirit soars knowing God is always a God of love and grace and healing. He will make all things new.

faith

It is the ordinary that God turns into extraordinary.

The ordinary day, ordinary word, ordinary photo.

Every year we take pictures of the residents of our Center and hang them on the Christmas tree in the activity room. A simple grade school project of gluing the photo to a construction paper background, punching two holes to thread ribbon through and hang. I’m not sure why we started doing this. It just seemed to be a good thing, the right thing to do.

Often the men send the photo to a family member; a child, a parent, a proof of life photo.

This year we did it differently and their pictures were put side by side, staff mixed in with residents to fill in an outlined Christmas tree.

We put it in the most visible place possible. We wanted everyone to see the smiles and joy this collage of faces, including two dogs and cat, brings to everyone passing by.

We posted it to Facebook and the comments started with Carlos saying this was a tree of miracles. Miracles with names.

xmas tree of photos

There are named miracles in the bible, The miracle at the Wedding at Cana. The miracle of the bread and fish, Lazarus raised from the dead, the various healings: the blind man, the lame, the leper, the woman with an issue of blood, and so on.

Except for Lazarus, these names are impersonal. The names describe more the event than the person.

What makes a miracle?

reading scripture
“reading” (signing) scripture

Carlos M

former program graduates join us for worship
former program graduates join us for worship

Is it a drug that cures hepatitis C or cancer? Or Is it a drug that takes away the headache you’ve had for days with no relief?

Is it a little girl who walks away from a plane crash that killed her parents and sibling?

Is it finding your keys?

Are all miracles the same size? Big?

I’ve never known a person to have been healed from a disease in a miraculous way. Meaning, I’ve not known a person riddled with cancer one day and cancer free the next moment. I’ve heard others telling those stories but I’m not a witness.

I’ve prayed for that kind of healing, for family and friends I’ve prayed with an earnest heart for God to heal them and he answered no. No in this physical, earthly life.

Prayer walk on the new property
Prayer walk on the new property
Henry and the guys are Tebow-ing
Henry and the guys are Tebow-ing

Three years ago we walked the property recently purchased, land that will give us space to build an updated and expanded Center for rehabilitation, and prayed for every part. We prayed for the future, for the possibility, for the funding. The money needed is huge and I think to myself it will take a miracle for that so we keep praying. Three years plus, we keep praying.

Are miracles always worked instantaneously?

Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher, was called the miracle worker. She taught this deaf and blind girl to communicate. Not in an instant but over time, she worked a “miracle” and gave future generations hope.

I lean toward belief that God is the miracle worker. The only one who can do what is thought impossible.

Maybe I’m being too generous when I call them miracles. Maybe telling them they are miracles is a stretch. Maybe. But I’m willing to take the chance.

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I want Dean and Matt and Steve and Sean and Johnny and Eric and James to know they are miracles. I want Mike and Chris and Art and Randal and Blair and Jeff to know what they tried to change in their strength was done in God’s power.

I want Carlos and Wilbert and Ramon to know what man can’t do, God can and he’s doing it in them.

I want to call His miracles by name and announce that our God is a miracle worker every day.

“Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” Matthew 19:26 the Message

When we see His miracles, we see Him. He is tall and short. Black and brown and white. He has  a Jersey accent and Philly and he says Feliz Navidad as clearly as he says Joyuex Noël, Merry Christmas or Happy Chanukah.

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” John 1:14 the Message

This God who is too glorious to be seen by human eyes, has made His word flesh and blood and moved into our midst. We tell of His glory that is around us. We pray you will see and know this Everlasting Father, this Prince of Peace, this Savior who is Christ the Lord.

faith hope Salvation Army

It was a week set aside for good things. Good weather, good friends, good words, new experiences that would mark our lives and leave us marked by the good we’d experienced.

Instead, it started with change and sadness. Then it rained chasing our outdoor plans inside. Schedules started bumping into each other and expectations were realized when they weren’t met. Feelings were hurt and sleep was lost and anxiety crept in for performances to be made. Because even on the mountain, in the midst of creations splendor surrounded by your most loved family, life happens. We show up. All of our battered, messy and imperfect selves show up.

And then grace.

lake house

around the lake

around the lake

Marian says put your truth on the table. So we did. Mostly calm and quiet words from this woman who is rarely calm or quiet. And grace was given and hugs shared and tender places soothed because our love is deeper than feelings.

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silly family photo

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friends

Somewhere in the midst of the coming and going, the earlier-than-I’d-like mornings and later, noisier nights grace was surrounding us all. It came out in loud laughter and a few tears and old stories and new revelations and friendships healed and renewed. Grace does what it does: it smooths the rough edges of self and touches the others pain. It reaches out to accept the hug and it says “I choose you”. Just because.

In this big yellow house by the lake, our annual rental with ever-changing family members and friends, the week spent at a bible conference (of all places!), life follows us. We’re reminded of the challenges of coming together and we remember the ebbs and flows of others and we beg grace from each other. We learn the truth in the words of Jesus when he said His grace is sufficient because it is. It’s enough.

Adding my voice to Meredith Bernard‘s #Woman2Woman link-up. 

faith

I’ve heard folks talk about family and friends being healed. A grim diagnosis had been given, people prayed, new test revealed no illness, no disease. No explanation from doctors. They’d been healed.

 

A couple of years ago my sister-in-law called with a prayer request. Her neighbor, her friend’s newborn, first born, wasn’t expected to live. Too many health complications. It was critical. She had days, maybe hours. I could hear the urgency in Dawn’s voice and the hope our prayers could give another. “Our men are praying. Will you have your men pray?” And we did. Dawn sent pictures. A tiny newborn body in specialized incubators with so many machines and wires. The neighborhood rallied. People prayed. These neighbors weren’t particularly people of faith but when your tiny daughter struggles for life you learn of faith.

Our men made a video for the parents. We posted the baby’s picture in the Center and prayed for healing. We sent the video and my sister-in-law called again. She barely got a word out before her voice broke and I knew. I knew baby Sophie was gone. I still remember being on the exit ramp near the Center holding the cell phone to my ear and crying with Dawn. Crying for parents suffering the worst tragedy. We prayed for healing. She died.

Last year we prayed again. This time for a woman in her 50’s. She and her husband had a 30+ year ministry, she singing and her husband bringing the word of God, the word of hope and spiritual healing to many. Our men loved them both. And Linda was sick. One week they were with us, she telling of a sudden stomach illness she’d had two weeks prior and still being careful of what she ate. A few weeks later she was diagnosed with cancer. Stage 4 cancer. We prayed. A lot. For healing. She died less in less than a year.

Some years ago, in another convention where Tony Campolo was speaking he talked about healing. He felt God leading him to offer to pray for healing in his church. Jesus healed people and told his followers we could do the same in his name. So Tony announced if anyone wanted prayer for healing to stay after the worship service and he would pray for them. He did. He followed the biblical example of putting oil on the people and prayed for the specific healing they were in need of. No one was physically healed. They still struggled with persisting ailments, disabilities and some died.

Tony was perplexed by this. He was sure it was God telling him to do this. To pray, in Jesus’ name for their healing. God being God, he allowed Tony to see His plan. At least in part. Tony received letters from many of the people he had prayed for. Letters thanking him. Letters from couples on the verge of divorce and facing terminal illness who had never been closer in their relationship than the last few months of the spouses life. Parents, desperate for a child’s healing, whose family was brought together through their prayers. Person after person speaking of their healing. Not what Tony had expected but when do we ever accurately expect what God reveals?

We have men praying to be healed of their addiction. I’ve heard it a few times. People saying they were “delivered” from the desire to use. It’s rare to hear it and more rare to see it. Still they want it. They want healing to over take their desires and transform them. We pray for it. But it doesn’t come. That way.

When it doesn’t come that way, the way we think it should be, the way we want it, we think God has turned his back on us or isn’t listening. What arrogant people we are!

I believe in the Jesus of miracles. I know he is healing. I just don’t want to miss the healing happening in front of me because I’m expecting another kind. The healing of families united, sanity restored. The healing of a grandpa’s heart who is now welcome in his grandson’s life. I’ve seen the before and after. It’s no less miraculous. He came to heal the lame, the blind, the broken-hearted, the addicted, the unforgiving, and the judgmental. His grace, mercy and love heals us if we’re willing.

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“This devaluing of what is important almost always underlies the development of family secrets, as well as contributing to dependency and codependency to have someone in the family responsible for another’s irresponsibility.” – Secrets of Your Family Tree; Dave Carder, M.A., Dr. Earl Henslin, Dr. John Townsend, Dr. Henry Cloud, Alice Brawand, M.A.

Eleanor Rigby streamed through the car radio as my fingers pushed buttons searching for some sound. That song immediately took me back to my fifth grade self in Shawnee, Oklahoma. We moved at an odd time that year as I began 5th grade in Oklahoma City but the bulk of it was done in Shawnee. My room was the only upstairs room over the garage. It was the nicest parsonage we’d lived in. We had a family room and wall-to-wall carpeting throughout the house. It was 1968 after all.

There was a desk in my room where I had the radio. AM I’m sure. There I would hear Bobby Goldsboro croon the tear jerker song, “Honey”, and I would become acquainted with the Beatles later music. Paul Revere and the Raiders had a television show on that I rarely missed. Music was beginning to get more personal for me.

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That would be the beginning of the end for my parents marriage. No one could know at the time. At least I think not. Three years later mom and dad would divorce and a friend in junior high school (two cities later) would tell me. It was published in the paper. Her parents read it. She didn’t know they hadn’t told me. She said it with concern. I remember my band teacher letting me sit in his office that day because I was crying. I think he knew. I think everyone knew but me and my brother.

Family secrets. What to tell? I like how AA looks at amends. You go to people unless to do so would harm them or others. Maybe secrets should be like that. But this was a no-win. Tell me and I’d hurt. Don’t tell, still hurt. Everyone was hurting and I suppose that’s why it was easier to not make a decision (which is a decision itself).

When mom and I moved to Baltimore after their divorce I turned to music again. Music and the bible. I was living upstairs again. Mom had rented an apartment above the main house. I liked it. School hadn’t started and I’d listen to James Taylor on the radio sing You’ve Got a Friend. Carole King’s Tapestry album got me through the summer as I played it over and over. I turned to the book of James and read about Living the Christian faith. Comfort and challenge is what I found. Two diverse mediums God used to soothe my soul. Words some would call secular but touched places that needed their balm. Maybe that’s why I believe God can use who he will use.

The soundtrack of my life has its own story. A story of sorrow, pain, grief. A story of grace, mercy, healing and love. It’s still being written my story. I just need to be true to the author.

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