Wednesday, February 25, 2015

She Doesn't Need Healing

We stopped going to church when Julia was a baby.

Not because we had lost faith, in fact, for me at least, this was a time of intense faith and closeness with God, but just not in a church building, and not surrounded by a lot of Christians.

It was the Christians we stopped going to church because of. Specifically the Christians who kept offering to pray for Julia to be healed.

We seemed to make them uncomfortable with this baby of ours who was different, this baby who wasn't perfectly healthy, wasn't just "fine."  They didn't seem to know what to do with us. Our presence was causing them to have to think about their God and their faith in a way they were not comfortable with - so instead they did the one thing they knew how to do, they offered to pray for healing.

"We are praying for her to be healed."
"We are praying God heals her."
"We have faith God will heal her."
 On and on and on, heal, heal, heal.

You would think these offers of healing prayer would have brought us comfort, but they did not. They brought pain and confusion - because it felt like rejection - like we were unacceptable "as is" - we needed to change, or she needed to be changed, before we could be embraced.

These offers also made me uncomfortable because somewhere deep inside my reeling, confused and sleep deprived newborn-mom brain, I knew Julia's healing was not what we needed.

You pray for healing when the diagnosis is a disease.

But Julia was not diagnosed with a disease.

Basically Julia was diagnosed with "this is just how she was made."

I didn't know exactly what you pray for when the diagnosis is "God made her this way," but  "healing" didn't feel right.

What would we be asking she be healed from?  The very blueprints God used to create her? Would we go before God and ask that he change her very being to make it easier on us? I cringe even now at the thought.  I didn't know much in those early days, but I knew I did not want her changed.

I also knew I needed more from my God then a "fix."

I needed a god who does more than just take away hard things, more than a "genie" god randomly granting wishes. I needed a god who would help me IN this hard thing and WITH this hard thing, not just out of it. If all you believe your god can do is take away pain then that isn't enough for me, that isn't my god. Because I found myself experiencing for the first time a pain I didn't want taken away. So how does that work? God has to be more than a fixer of pain or nothing makes sense - because I see a lot of pain in this world that hasn't been taken away. So what does that say then about God if your faith in him and his goodness depend solely on the removal of what we think is hard or wrong?

That's just too simple for this beautiful heartbreaking life.

I'm not a biblical scholar, but I KNOW my God did not promise us a cake walk in this life (John 16:33). So why is a cake walk exactly what we beg Him for the moment hard things appear for ourselves or others? It doesn't add up.

When Julia was about three years old we cautiously started going to church again thanks to the recommendation of friends and family who loved us and knew what we were wrestling with in regards to other Christians. We found a church where the motto is "Me too" - basically a general statement of acceptance for everyone - come as you are - you don't need to get better to be here - we are all the same - we all need grace.  It felt like the kind of place where they might say "Hey, Julia is pretty awesome!"  Rather than "Hey, Julia needs to be healed."  It's been a good home for us.

I remember one Sunday morning in particular, our pastor referenced a verse from Romans chapter 8 where Paul writes about being more than conquerors through Christ. That phrase "more than" - why did Paul write that? Why not just conquerors? Conquering seems pretty good to me. Because, our pastor explained, you are a conqueror when your challenges are gone, but you are MORE THAN a conqueror when you live victoriously with your challenges still present.

There it is!!!!!!!!
That is my verse!! (Romans 8:37)
And that is my God!!!!!!

That Sunday morning our pastor gave words to what I had been trying to figure out all of these years about how I understood God. That was why I was so uncomfortable with the "healing" stuff: I don't need (nor want) these challenges removed, I have a God who makes me victorious with my challenges, while I am still very much in the hard stuff.

So, this is what I have come to understand about Julia and healing over the past seven years:
It isn't Julia who needs healing. It is the rest of us.  Julia is a precious catalyst for God to heal some of our deep brokenness. The brokenness that causes us to fear and reject what is different and weak and vulnerable.

Please know that I am not against prayers for healing. I do it all the time. I've just learned that often we are too specific in what we are asking God to heal, too specific and usually off base.

Don't pray for her to change, pray for us to embrace her as she is.
Don't pray for her to change, pray for the community to shift how they view her.
Don't pray for her to change, pray for yourselves to change how you understand hard things.

Don't pray for her to be healed, pray for my healing and pray for your own:

Heal me from my selfishness.
Heal me from my insecurities.
Heal me from my need to control.
Heal me from my fear of hard things.
Heal me so that when hard things come I will stand firm, I will move towards, 
and I will be MORE THAN.

"In all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through him who loved us." - Romans 8:37


  1. YES! YES! YES!!!! I so resonated with this post...thank you for this!

    1. Kerri! Your comment makes me so happy - thank you! I'd love to hear more!

    2. Wow, this is good. People need to hear this. Thank you.

  2. beautifully stated! all of it!!

  3. I am an adult with a disability. I grew up with disabilities from birth. I am not religious myself, but I grew up in the church. Fortunately, the more common theology there was to not pray for an outcome, like healing, but to pray for God to be with you, no matter what you were going through. I guess it's a slightly more abstract, less literal theology, but it seems to me it would be much more appropriate for kids with disabilities and their parents.

  4. Who made the man's mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Exodus 4:11

  5. Sadly I can really relate to this story... Even in my own family we have to continually educate and demonstrate that autism isn't a deficiency that needs a cure but rather a super power that needs to be tapped into. :)

    1. LAM - thanks so much for sharing that with me. I love your perspective abs couldn't agree more - we have super heroes among us - why would we ever pray that away? 💜

  6. I understand what you´re saying, it has happened to us, but I think is more because people want to say and do something nice (like it is to have people pray for you), but don´t know how to express it, they lack tact....I have a bunch of people praying for us all the time, I encourage them always, and I also pray that God gives me the strenght I need to do this the best I can for my daughter, I pray she doesn´t suffer or get scared every time she goes under surgery or medical examinations (she absolutely hates going to the doctor, being examined in general and we have to do it very, very often), I pray God grants me the patience I need when things get hard and also the gratitude I owe when we have it easy, I pray for her to walk, to talk, to enjoy food, but also, I pray so that I can accept humbly His will, specially when it´s different than what I had in mind .....I´ve seen TOO MANY times the power of praying, I know God listens and grants us what we ask if that is whats best for us, so I pray and I thank the people that remember praying for us, because that is what has brought us this advise, I´m a catholic (I´d recommend you to try that! -not trying to get into an argument!-), but also, catholics or christians in general, are human beings, you know we are not perfect, and even with the best of intentions, we still can mess it up, we can be offensive because we don´t know how to express ourselves, but keep in mind that the thought does count, prayers are important and we need them......the next time you get some of those comments, say something, ask them to pray for something you need, like "my daughter is going under surgery in a few days, pray everything goes well" or "we ´re trying a new med, pray this one will work"...I don´t know, you know what you need, get an army of people praying for you and Julia, it works....

  7. Thank you for writing this. Oh, how many times people look past our sweet girl to see her disability and don't see who she truly has been made to be. Everyone is fearfully and wonderfully made, but sometimes in all our worldly pursuits people fail to really understand that applies to ALL of us. God has given our Li-Ru a gift for capturing people's hearts and our prayer for her is that she will use to help be a catalyst for change. Thank you again for writing this. Many blessings to you and your family! Especially super Julia!

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