Shame And Grace Part 20 - Who Wants To Get Well?

Dec 23

Shame And Grace Part 20 - Who Wants To Get Well?

Mon, 12/23/2013 - 09:42 — Thabo Mokete

A desperate need for healing

It has gotten so bad that sickness is now a way of life to many, and we begin to think it normal. Let us get real: Sickness is not normal. We were not born to stay sick and miserable, but to enjoy life to the fullest, until it overflows.1

I do remember when I was a little boy that there were comforts in being sick. It meant first of all, that while enduring all the pain, there was the gain of being away from school for a day or two. If I was sick at home, mother would really fuss over me in typical hen style. I could then choose to ask for whatever food I craved, from donuts to anything at all. Everybody was nice and sweet. That is until I got well.

The thing is that comforts in sickness sick did not end in childhood. At any stage, there are comforts in being not well, in spite of the pain. There is the well documented game of a married couple where the wife got sick so very often, but the husband never once complained.2 Whenever she fell ill, he would fuss over her, nice and gentle.

Once the woman got well, he would revert to his usual role, of being not so nice. So when the woman got sick she got a dose of medicine she needed the most: being pampered and fussed over, having her husband being nice to her. She did not get sick deliberately. We’ll just say her health deteriorated and she became weak and prone to sickness.

There is also the man who'd been sick with a paralyzing illness.3 For thirty eight years he'd been in bed, sick, doing nothing. He had come to accept that nothing could change the situation. This was his curse for life. Unless, of course, some miracle cure was found. He had heard about that, but he was "too sick" even for a miracle.

The all important question

In spite of all the years spent lying sick on his bed, there were some benefits. People had pity on him and gave him what little they could. Now and then he got the chance to tell the story of how he had been sick for all these years. Prayers and kind looks of comfort he probably got.

One day the unthinkable happened. A stranger came by his bedside. Now here was a question nobody had dared ask him before: “Do you want to get well?” He then began to tell his sorry tale to the stranger once again, the same story he had told countless times to others before. But this visitor was not about to be fooled.

What the sick man did not know was that there in front of him was a “man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness”4. Having borne all of human weakness, grief and pain himself, he knew exactly what sickness is all about. He knew every sickness in detail. Further, he knew its roots and what was required to bring about healing.

The stranger asked: "Do you want to become well, are you really in earnest about getting well?"5 What!?

When you have been sick that long, somehow the possibility of getting well can appear to be a nightmare. What if he really got well? His life would never be the same again. He would have to find himself a job!
He would have to build himself a house and marry a woman, have kids and be a family man. The moment he got up from that bed, responsibilities would flow. Endlessly. Now he had gotten so comfortable lying on his bed. It became normal to be sick, he now had a way of dealing with it. Of course, he was not happy, but who was happy anyway?

While thinking about all that, he had to face that question and give an answer or shut up forever. For it seemed that people were listening in on this conversation. Yeah, he said, he wanted to get well. That's all that was needed. He had to want to get well.

We have big obstacles to getting well today, in spite of all the healing that has been made available. Some would rather die than admit to a particular sickness. Even, society has turned some sicknesses around and made them glamorous. This then is the first real challenge to getting well: We have to recognize and admit that we are sick.

Secondly, when we recognize and admit that we are sick, we have to want to get well. Our will must be committed fully to getting well.

Someone has been told that he has a problem with an addiction because of something that happened in childhood. It maybe harming his life, but it's now a sickness that cannot be cured, he's stuck with it. There are comforts to it too: His family expects nothing from him,  he cannot get a job because of it. He may not be happy, but who's happy anyway?

She has settled on a life of sex and drugs, day in and day out. Of course it is painful, but that is how her life is, and she must deal with it. There are all the comforts, all the men who want her and the boost that she gets from a high. She may not be happy, but who's happy anyway.

We can even look at the man who has created a reputation for himself with the ladies. He's affectionately called a "ladies' man" and on the surface, he's proud of it. But he knows it’s an adaptation to sickness, he's not supposed to live that way. He gets benefits out of being sick, no one expects him to commit to any relationship, but he can still find comfort in the warmth of a woman’s arms each night. Does he want to get well?

There are more social sicknesses than can be mentioned, where men live a life of crime in the absence of good jobs. They are not pretending, they just don't find the jobs. So anything they do after that is probably justified. There are benefits to that sickness too. Even jail continues to offer benefits. Who wants to get well?

It is also possible that people around you may prefer the sick version of you, and they cannot bear the thought of you being well. They will lose out on benefits you give them out of sickness. There are some people cannot stand living with a spouse who does not get drunk. It would be too much for them. Who wants to get well?

But I mention the social sicknesses only to bring it out in the open. We probably all face different kinds of sickness, which we may not sure we'd like to be healed of. It gets comfortable to be ridden on by a monkey that you've known for years, even decades, than to have him off you and have to deal with a new life-situation.

So maybe, one thinks, if I'm healed of this problem, then I'll have to deal with a bigger problem when I get well. I'd rather stick to this devil, I can deal with him. Meanwhile, that familiar devil is busy taking him down piece by piece.

Whatever the thing that has you trapped is a real sickness. You don't do it deliberately, but it is your sickness now and you have learned to deal with it. In many ways you may not even consider it as a sickness anymore, but as just the way your life goes. Well, except your conscience won't let you off the hook every time you do it, and you know it is killing you softly.

But healing does not come to you as long as you are in denial about the existence of sickness in your life. Who would go to the doctor's rooms without first acknowledging a lack of well-being? The question “Do you want to get well?” gets asked only of those who have accepted that they are sick.

Grace does not come as long as you play a game of “I've tried everything...”.2 In this game you try different remedies for your problem, while you know at the back of your head that nothing will work for you, because you are not committed to the healing process.

This certainly has to be one of the most powerful questions we can be asked. When sickness, addiction and failure imprison the human spirit, then as it out of nowhere comes the unconditional question of grace: Do you want to get well?

Wanting to get well, that's our role in any healing process. Doctors cannot do it for us, therapists or counselors and spiritual healers are powerless to do this for us. Whenever we are in a situation where we have fallen victim, this question can be asked of us. How much, or how badly do we want to get well?

1. John 6:33; John 10:10; John 3:36
2. Berne, Eric. Games People Play. London: Cox and Wyman Ltd, 1964.
3. John 5:1-14
4. Isaiah 53
5. John 5:6. Scripture taken from the THE AMPLIFIED BIBLE. The Amplified New Testament copyright 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.