Sunday, November 01, 2009

Remembering Healing...

Four years ago today I encountered Jesus in an incredibly powerful way, and was healed from severe depression that I'd been dealing with for seven years - about a third of my life at that time.

I suppose the story really starts the day before. I'd hosted three friends for a sort of halloween get-together. (probably the last and one of the only times I ever did anything to mark halloween.) We'd done a bunch of fun things together and then found ourselves sprawled across the floors of my parent's living room, talking a little. I remember two things vividly from that night. How huge the "elephants in the room" were - the things we were talking around without openly acknowleding them, and driving back home, after dropping one of my friends at her home, and screaming at God as I drove.

There was so much hurt in each of our lives, and in those days we were talking a lot about believing in a God who is real and active, and who longs to bring healing and freedom, but we couldn't quite manage to move our conversations past the theoretical, to the point of really praying together and caring for each other. And those elephants in the room got to me that night. I'd stopped saying much to God quite a while before that. It didn't seem to make much difference, and to be honest, at the time it seemed that if I prayed, or sought prayer from others, things got worse, not better. That night, after watching and seeing all the things that weren't said, I was angry, and as I drove I yelled at God - this from a person who quite admittedly rarely prayed anymore.

I woke the next morning, a Tuesday, and headed for university as normal. As the day went on I began having a series of experiences that were rather unusual for me in those days. First, over and over in my head, I began hearing the phrase "kicking against the goads." I had no idea what it meant, though I knew it was vaguely biblical. As I took the bus home that day, I began seeing a vivid image in my mind of the bottom of a pair of feet. They were small feet, like a very small woman's or a child's, and they were brutally cut and scarred. Not bloody, but covered in cuts and scars, criss-crossing the entire bottom of each foot. The word "razor" was hugely associated with that image.

I got home, and googled "kicking against the goads". It turned out that it was a phrase from one of Paul's letters (I've forgotten, for the moment, which one). The commentary I read struck hard. It described the "goads" as part of an ox harness and the phrase that hit me deeply read, "the more the animal fought against it, the more the goads dug in." I crumpled a little inside as those words hit home, and even uttered a few prayers. "God, that's what we're doing. We're railing and kicking against all these things in our lives, and they're just getting worse, sticking to use more deeply, hurting us more, drawing more blood."

I didn't have those sorts of experiences in those days, in fact, I considered them weird. But that was okay, because it was a Tuesday, and Tuesday meant house church, and that I'd be seeing the friend who was my resource for all things "weird." I remember telling him at the beginning of the evening that we needed to chat, and then I remember very few details until the house group was drawing to a close. He was standing at the door, preparing to leave, and I'd come over to say goodbye when he remembered that I'd wanted to talk.

I was dismissive, "Go home, don't worry about it. I'll call you tomorrow."

He was insistent, "No, no, I've got 5 minutes."

I sat on the stairs and he stood at the door, and I began to share what I'd experienced that day.

Within minutes of beginning the conversation, he stirred, "Let's walk."

I was less than compliant. "It's blizzarding - I'll freeze."

He didn't care, and I trusted him enough to put on my shoes, jacket, gloves and hat, grab my purse and belongings, and follow him out the door. We walked and talked for what seemed like a long time, through the neighborhood we were in, to the edge of a ravine nearby. When it became too cold, we sat in the dark in his car and kept talking.

I think we talked until around 2 in the morning, interspersed with bits and pieces of prayers. The details of what we discussed are spotty.

We talked about something to do with my hands. About feeling God's power in my fingers, and something to do with the story of Jesus healing the woman with the issue of blood.

I'd been re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia around that time, and I remember sharing with him a line that had been playing through my head, a line from which I was hoping to write out some thoughts. "C.S. Lewis looked at God and created the character of Aslan. I look at Aslan and wish I knew a God like that."

There was a bit of conversation about interpretation of tongues. And his insistence, and my skepticism that I'd interpreted a moment of his speaking in tongues that night.

I wrote the following on my blog the next morning:

"God showed up. I don't understand how, or why, or what happened, but it was good. I'm thankful for my friend who gave me the courage to come before God in a way that I haven't for a long time. Who invited me so gently that I couldn't say no. Who challenged me to say the things I thought I'd said. Who told me I needed to step up and ask God for some things. Who understood my frustration because he's been there too, and kept us both from perpetuating the cycle of only talking, by helping us both to pray. Who celebrated with me as a quietness closed in with my prayers, as my spirit calmed a little. I'm thankful for a god who will intervene."

There are further stories to tell. The image of feet became incredibly significant only days later.

But today I'm remembering that night.

I'm remembering that though we never prayed for healing, after that night my depression was gone.

I don't have a whole lot of theology, or even a great need to have a whole lot of theology around the idea of a "baptism of the holy spirit", but if there is such a moment in my life, a marked and easily remembered moment, it was that night. That night I began to meet a different God - one who loved me deeply. And while that process of building relationship is ongoing, I think, whether or not depression one day returns to my life, that day is one worth marking.

This has been an incredibly difficult year, and this week especially has had some incredibly hard moments. I wondered often if I would arrive at today and still have something to celebrate - if I would still be able to say that I was depression free. By God's grace, I think, for the moment, that I can say that today.


shallowfrozenwater said...

those are some powerful thoughts and words Lisa. be blessed and thank you.

Lisa said...

mmm... thanks for commenting... I'm hoping to share further stories from that time period in the coming days as well...