A year ago today I was wheeled into an ice-cold OR room to have a major surgery to correct the problem that had caused me unimaginable pain for over a year.
I remember my mom almost crying as she said goodbye to me.
I remember being very, very calm. I knew it wasn’t me, that only the Lord could bring that kind of soul-stillness in a moment where the rest of my life hung in the balance.
I won’t lie, I was in a weird place spiritually around this time in my life. I had never felt more abandoned by my community, never felt more lost in my faith, never had more questions than I did right then. But the Lord was gracious. He allowed all of that to remain in the back of my mind until I was ready to handle it. Once I returned home, began the healing process, and began searching for a new church I would have to deal with all that pain. But in this moment, He was kind to just be with me. I was able to set aside all my confusion about who God is and who I was. I was able to rest in the peace that regardless of what I did or didn’t understand, He was there. That was all that ever mattered.
Physical healing wasn’t the only kind of healing to happen over my year of recovery. I wasn’t just recovering from surgery. God was bringing me into a new community. I was still hurting from the last community I had been in; my trust in people was limited and my fear of them overwhelming. I was relearning how to study my bible, relearning how to pray, and relearning how to worship. I was learning what it meant to be a daughter of God without all of the legalistic rules and judgement. I was learning about grace, and The Holy Spirit, and forgiveness. I began devouring book upon book in an attempt to grow and understand more.
I look back and see the beautiful way God arranged all of it. How He used my illness to bring new people into my life. How He used it as an opportunity for people to minister to me, to pray over me, and begin the process of building trust with me. I see how the years spent in an unhealthy environment made me appreciate where I am now even more. The years of deep loneliness and isolation make me appreciate the moments of deep fellowship and community I now have.
See, I thought going into surgery that the next year of my life was going to be all about healing from surgery. I wasn’t expecting healed relationships. I wasn’t expecting healing in my relationship with God. I wasn’t expecting healing in my relationship with myself. I wasn’t expecting healing in my relationship to The Church. I wasn’t expecting to go from feeling isolated and alone, to being surrounded by people who have quickly become like family.
I didn’t even know I needed healing in those places.
I was in a dark room that I didn’t know needed to be lit up–my eyes long adjusted to the darkness, and confident in my ability to make my way through the shadows.
I was in chains I didn’t know needed to be broken–their rhythmic clanking had become a melody my soul found familiar.
I was in a prison cell I didn’t know needed to be unlocked–I had mistaken those brick walls for shelter.
I didn’t know I needed to be rescued. I thought I was doing fine on my own. I thought I was strong enough to survive without community, without people to back me–having learned the lie of self-reliance many years before.
But God knew better. He knew I needed rescue.
Physically, I’m doing great. It has been a long road, but I’m feeling better than ever. I still have my moments, but I’m able to live. I can confidently say that God healed me miraculously. I’m overwhelmingly thankful for how well I’m doing now, despite the intense year of pain that recovery brought.
But my body wasn’t all that He healed.
He healed me in so many ways this past year. In some areas I’m still healing, but I’m trusting Him with that process.
I can’t talk about my physical healing without talking about all the other healings.
I can’t tell you about the long nights in the hospital being sick without also telling you about the long nights on my knees, questioning everything I thought I knew about God.
I can’t tell you about feeling isolated because of being sick without telling you that I had already been feeling isolated for the better part of 10 years.
I can’t tell you about how I’m finally able to live now that I’m not in chronic pain without telling you that I’m also finally able to live in the fullness of joy found in Christ.
I can’t share with you the times spent being prayed over before going up to lead worship–because I was so nauseous and in so much pain that I wasn’t sure I could even stand through the service–without also telling you that the healing that happened in my worship life changed me far more than the physical healing that took place.
I can’t tell you about how I can work and go to school now that I’m not sick without also telling you that I’m able to sing, and pray, and spend time with people I love without fear of judgement.
Because while my physical healing was a miraculous act that I love to share with people, the healing He brought me spiritually was even more so. I can talk all the day long about the healing I prayed for, hoped for, and longed for.
But I also have to tell you about the healing I didn’t know was coming. The healing I didn’t know I needed, and definitely didn’t think was possible. I have to tell you about the healing that was completely and totally unexpected. Because our God is a God of radical rescue. He is saving us when we don’t even know it. He is working in the unseen. He is there in the unspoken. He is present in the unknown. He is healing the unexpected.