When Healing Doesn’t Come

Healing. It’s such a tender word, soft even on the tongue. It sounds like what it is—purposeful, lovely, complete. It’s something I’ve longed for every day for the last two decades. And yet no matter how much I’ve prayed or ached, I am still not fully healed.

I developed trichotillomania—a hair-pulling condition—as a child. Twenty-odd years later, I’m still pulling out my eyelashes and eyebrows every day of the week. The lashes end up scattered on the pages of my books and in the crevices of my laptop because I continue to tug on them. They are everywhere except where they are meant to be: attached to my eyes. I hate that I do this. I ask God every day to help me stop. But healing has eluded me for the bulk of my life.

I fought against this for a while; I cried a lot of tears and argued through a lot of prayers. And for awhile I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I prayed in a particular way or if I had the right person ask God on my behalf—maybe then I would finally be healed. But healing hasn’t worked for me like that. I’ve had friends healed miraculously of everything from headaches to depression, and I know that God can do this in our bodies and in our minds, and that sometimes this is how he works—in a flash, in a moment, in a brilliant display of his glory and his power. But this is not my story.

And so I am learning that sometimes his healing looks like a painfully slow transformation over years and half-centuries. I’m starting to understand that healing sometimes mirrors dying—a stripping away, a slowing, a weakening in all the places we thought we were strong.

Because the best and most important kind of healing won’t come in my body or mind, although both are broken and in need of Christ’s touch. The fullest healing may not ever come to my eyelashes. When my self-discipline and desperation aren’t enough, I face the truth that I am weak. I am broken.

And what I really want, even more than a body and brain that will act in wholeness, is to trust that I am loved. Even when my prayers seem unanswered, I long to know that I am loved in the middle of my weakness. Utterly and completely. I want to know that my pain doesn’t keep me from being embraced.

And in front of Christ, the suffering Savior and servant King, I find that his love has already done just that. In fact, he has already been healing me, even before I asked for it. When I look in the mirror and see the damage I have done to myself, he whispers to me the truth that I am wonderfully made. When I question my worth and value, he points to the scars in his hands. Here, in front of the God-man who knows me, I am healed by his love above all. In my utter inability to heal myself, he shows me his unwavering love on the cross. He, the perfect one, chose pain in order to save me. He chose the brokenness and weakness I run from and embraced suffering, just so he could catch me up in his arms and help me stop running from what I needed most of all—Him.  

And learning and accepting this Love, even as my physical disorder remains, is what has truly healed me.

So am I healed? Yes and no. My body will show you its lack of healing on my very face—the bare lash-line, the drawn-in eyebrows. But my soul will reveal the deeper truth; I am already healed. His love has healed me. His truth has healed me. Christ himself has rescued me. For today, that is more than enough.

 

 

(Photo by Luca Iaconelli on Unsplash)

Ann Swindell

Ann Swindell is the author of Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn't Give You What You Want (Tyndale, 2017).She writes for The Gospel Coalition, RELEVANT, Deeply Rooted, and Darling Magazine, and she teaches faith-based writing classes for fellow writers at www.WritingwithGrace.com. You can connect with her at annswindell.com.

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  • Ann, I loved your book, and once again, today in this post, you have offered helpful guidance in navigating the tension between the already and the not-yet in this journey toward healing that we are all traveling.

    • I’m so grateful, Michele. Thankful for you!

  • Kelly Simonsen

    Thank you for this. As I sit in a season where healing has yet to come in my life this insight encourages me. I’ve never thought about the fact that deeper than my need for physical healing is a desire to trust that I am loved.

  • Ann, thank you for your willingness to share your living in the brokenness. I too am waiting for healing that may never come in this life, but still am asked to bear this life regardless. Thank you for the “me too” and the reminder that God chose the brokenness too.