As I have been thinking about and talking with others about the process of healing, I thought back to when I was dressing Jaime’s scar, following her surgery to remove the tumor. Two times a day, I would apply the ointment and clean bandages over the scar. Her wound was deep and took quite a while to heal.
These past three years have not been easy, but they have been good. Just when I think I am past something, God is good to have me revisit it (either through a person, an experience, or a new study), dig a little deeper, experience some pain, and continue the healing process. Recently, someone was discussing with me about unhealthy healing and several of the truths made me think about how some us approach healing, following a loss – whether it be death, divorce, or some other life-changing experience.
When Jaime died, several well-meaning individuals said to me, “You need to keep living your life for her and your daughter.” That sounds good, but what an unhealthy way to heal…what an unrealistic burden to bear. I wasn’t created to live my life for another human being. I was created to fulfill the plans God established for me, long before the foundation of the world. God’s best for me is not that I live my life in the false belief that I am somehow validating my wife’s presence, or lengthening her outreach to others…including to my daughter. The truth is, I cannot…no one can do that. Likewise, Felicity was not fashioned in Jaime’s womb to be her mother. I will not put that burden on her. Reader, feel free to hold me and others accountable to this. God has amazing plans for Felicity that may at times look and feel like the personalities of her parents. But don’t be fooled…she is 100% her own! Attempting to live your life through someone else’s – even after they have gone – means that you are missing out on the great plans God has specifically set aside for you to accomplish. It is unhealthy healing and it is hindering God’s very best in your life.
Another way we tend to respond to hurt is we attempt to ignore the pain. This is personal for me, because for the first two years, I was fine with the fact that Jaime and I had forgiven one another and ended our marriage on good terms. But I had honestly not allowed God to dig down deep into the areas where I knew I had regret and disappointment. There have been quite a few tears this past year and a great deal of healing that will, no doubt, continue in the years to come. Like some of you, I was OK talking about how I felt…as long as I controlled the conversation…its beginning and its end. I was always. “fine.” But I really wasn’t. I laid in bed at night, replaying each argument, and wishing I had been a better husband. I was crumbling on the inside. I am a strong proponent of an accountability partner. I would encourage you to reach out to someone wiser and unbiased, someone you can call whenever and pour out your heart. Those people in my life have been a tremendous blessing. They have not let me ignore what God desires to heal and make whole.
Earlier I shared that I don’t live my life for Jaime. Now, for some that might come across as though I just ignore the fact I was married to an amazing woman and that my plan it to forget what has happened and go on with my life. That notion would be wrapped up in the idea that in order to honor someone you are obligated to insert them into every situation for fear that others will question your love for them and/or forget that they were a very real presence…a very, deeply missed presence. The truth is, I miss Jaime every day. Do I think about her every second. No. And that’s ok. I honor her life by not recreating what I had hoped it would be, what I thought or felt is was, or by forcing Felicity to take on the unhealthy role of being her mother, so that I am in someway comforted by a pseudo-presence of someone I wish was still here. Our family, and our individuality is defined not by Jaime, or our deep loss. We are, day by day, discovering who we are in Christ, and ready to accomplish those things He has for us to do.
We’ve all got something deep that needs healing. And my prayer for you is the same prayer so many others pray for and with me. That God would, in His goodness, grace, and His own timing, reveal those things, in truth, and heal our hearts from the inside out.
“When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” – John 5:6